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Zika Could Affect Florida’s Breast Milk Bank In The Future

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Crystal Chavez
The Florida Channel
Donated breast milk at the Mothers' Milk Bank in Orlando.

A central Florida breast milk bank says its supply is safe from the Zika virus. But the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Florida said Zika may affect the amount of donor milk available for medically fragile babies in the future.

The Mothers’ Milk Bank of Florida said its supply of donated breast milk is safe because Zika is a heat sensitive virus. That means the virus would be destroyed during the pasteurization process all of its donated milk goes through. One thing Kandis Natoli is concerned about is the nonprofit’s future supply. Natoli is executive director of the state’s only official milk bank.

“Most of our donors are upper income, well-educated, older moms and there’s a good chance, or I expect that they’re probably going to delay pregnancy when they can,” said Natoli.

More women delaying pregnancy would mean fewer available donors. Hospitals with neonatal intensive care units are the milk bank’s main recipients. The Mother’s Milk Bank of Florida currently has more than 300 moms approved as donors.