Compiled by: Cindy Curtis, RN, IBCLC of BreastfeedingOnline.Com
The concern of buying a used pump is something many breastfeeding moms encounter. Although a used pump may be more affordable than a new one, there are real health implications involved.
The practice of re-using single user pumps may be dangerous because some disease organisms are know to be present in the breast milk of infected women. Additionally, if a woman has used the breast pump during an episode of cracked bleeding nipples, blood contamination may have also occurred. Home sterilization methods are not always reliable to ensure the safe destruction of all pathogens especially in the rubber parts such as washers and diaphragms. Some pumps have internal diaphragms that cannot be removed and cleaned or replaced. In addition, even if you get a new collection kit (the part the touches your breast and collects the milk) it may be possible for air-born pathogens or droplets of milk that are not visible to the naked eye to get into a pump motor and cause contamination to the next user. Most single user pumps are “open system” pumps and do not have any protective barrier to prevent cross contamination to multiple users.
Many of the diseases that can be found in the milk of infected women are very serious or life threatening. Pathogens like Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis, cytomegalovirus (CMV) and others can be found in the breastmilk of infected women. (Lawrence 94) These diseases frequently go undetected for long periods of time, so even if the former user of the pump is trustworthy and willing to share this personal health information with you, she may not be aware she or her partner are carriers. Though there have not been any documented cases of mothers or babies being infected through the use of a second-hand pump, I don’t believe sharing single user pumps is worth even a very small or theoretical risk.
Other very difficult to clear fungal infections like candidiasis, more commonly known as yeast or thrush, may also be transmitted. Yeast organisms are very stubborn pathogens that can live on surfaces for long periods. Some lactation consultants will go as far as recommending replacing old pump equipment when working with a mom who has an especially persistent yeast infection because of the difficult in ensuring the complete destruction of the fungus even with careful cleaning.
In addition to the health risks of borrowing a pump there are ethical ones as well. I have worked with several moms who purchased or borrowed a used pump from a friend or relative, only to have that pump break or stop operating while they were using it. These moms then felt obligated to purchase a new pump,if it was a borrowed pump, the new pump had to be returned and the mom had spent a lot of extra money that she didn’t need to. The approximate cost to formula feed a baby for one year is $2,300.00 , a new breast pump is very reasonable compared to that price.
Most breast pumps come with a one year warranty, but this only applies to the original owner, any sharing of the pump negates the warranty.
I personally called the FDA on June 1, 2001 to find out the specifics and here is the statement issued by them at that time:
“The following statement is FDA’s position on the matter of reuse of breast pumps labeled for a single user. FDA does not regulate the sale of individual breast pumps by individuals to other individuals. Rather, we regulate these medical devices when they are in interstate commerce. We have not said that this practice is legal or illegal. Instead, we have the following position, which recommends that if the pump cannot be adequately disinfected between uses by different mothers, that the pump not be used by different mothers.” “FDA advises that there are certain risks presented by breast pumps that are reused by different mothers if they are not properly cleaned and sterilized. These risks include the transmission of infectious diseases or the risk of improper function. FDA believes that the proper cleaning and sterilization of breast pumps requires the removal of any fluid that has entered the pumping mechanism itself. If proper sterilization of the breast pump can not be achieved, FDA recommends that it not be reused by different mothers.”
If you are considering buying a used breast pump, please determine whether or not the pump is a “single user” pump before purchasing it.
Here is a list of the pumps I have researched :
Most purchase pumps have an open system. This means that the pump motor is “open” to contact with the mother’s milk particles. The breastshield is open to the tubing that attaches to the back of the shield, which is also open to the diaphragm on the pump motor that creates the suction and release. This means that an invisible mist of milk particles can travel from the shield into the tubing and back onto the pump diaphragm. The diaphragm cannot be removed or sterilized, so it cannot be cleaned mothers to insure safety. When there are milk particles on the pump diaphragm, even with a brand new set of bottles, tubing and breastshields, with every suction and release another mother’s milk particles will be blown into your milk. Even if milk particles are not visible, they can still be there.
The following pumps are labeled as “single user” devices:
- Avent Isis®
- Evenflo Press and Pump®
- Evenflo Manual Breast Pump®
- Gentle Expressions Mini Electric®
- Gerber Precious Care®
- Hollister/Ameda® Purely Yours
- MagMag Mini Electric®
- Medela Mini electric®
- Medela Pump In Style® Breast pump
- Medela Pump In Style® Traveler
- Medela Pump In Style® Companion
- Medela DoubleEase® Breast Pump
The following pumps are are designed to be used by multiple users:
These pumps operate on a “closed system”, meaning that it is impossible for milk reach the motor, hence these are safe to be used my multiple mothers.
- Hollister Elite® Hollister Lact-e®
- Hollister SMB® Breast pump®
- Medela Classic® Breast pump
- Medela Lactina® Breast pump
- Medela Symphony® Breast pump
- Bailey Nurture III®
The following pumps are still being researched by me :
If the pump you are planning to purchase is not listed above, please consult the operating instructions or the box that came with the breast pump when you purchased it.
From Medela’s Website
From Bailey Medical Engineering’s Website
From Avent America’s Website
We at Avent America are always striving to provide mothers with quality products at reasonable prices to help them breastfeed longer. Research has shown that breast milk. can transmit many contagious viruses. It is for this reason that we strongly recommend that you NEVER use a previously owned breast pump. The Isis Breast Pump is considered to be a personal care item and has been designed to be for single use only. Mothers should never share breast pumps. Sharing or using a previously owned breast pump could put you and your baby at a potential risk for exposure to serious health risks.
Some of the viruses that can be within breast milk are:
When you are using a previously owned breast pump you create the risk of cross contamination. It is for this reason that AVENT AMERICA STRONGLY SUGGESTS NEVER USING, BORROWING, PURCHASING OR SELLING A PREVIOUSLY USED/PRE-OWNED BREAST PUMP.
Since a mother’s breast milk is the most precious gifts of nutrition/health she can give her baby, DON’T take the chance of sharing someone else’s viruses with your baby.
If you have any questions regarding this issue, please feel free to contact us at 1-800-54-AVENT.
Compiled by: Cindy Curtis, RN, IBCLC www.breastfeedingonline.com
This handout may be copied and distributed without further permission, on the condition that it is not used in any context in which the WHO code on the marketing of breastmilk substitutes is violated.