Research and Development

The Milk Bank at Chester collaborate with Universities on research projects as well as carrying out in-house research and trials to improve our processes. Our research does not involve formula milk companies and is subject to NHS ethical approval.

How do I choose if I want to consent to my milk being used for research?

When registering with the milk bank, donors can choose to consent to their milk being used for research if it cannot be issued to hospitals and to their data being shared with researchers. There are 2 different boxes on our Research Consent Section which must be initialled if you would like to give your consent. Please note that consent can be removed at any time prior to the use of the milk by contacting the milk bank. If you do not consent by initialling the boxes your milk will not be used for any inhouse or external research.

What milk is used for research purposes?

Only milk that cannot be issued to hospitals is used for research – this includes milk expressed while taking certain medications or exceeding alcohol or caffeine limits. In addition, we store a 5ml sample of each batch of milk processed for 1 month in case we need to rerun any microbiology tests – this milk would otherwise be discarded after 1 month and is only used for research if donors have given consent when registering.

What data do you provide to researchers?

Any samples or data provided for research purposes are completely anonymised removing any identifiable information such as name, address, date of birth, baby’s date of birth, NHS number. Each research project requires different datasets however the information provided may include the following: donor age when baby born; baby age when milk expressed; baby gestation at birth; any medical issues / infections / medications taken; caffeine and alcohol intake; first part of postcode; microbiological content of milk; nutritional content of milk. Research projects require information such as this to investigate how a wide range of factors could influence the content of human milk.

Current Research Collaborations:

Investigating the immunological composition of breast milk and their link to maternal lifestyle factors Dr Gareth Nye, University of Chester Medical School

Characterising imprinted proteins in human breast milk Geula Hanin, Elizabeth J Radford, Anne C. Ferguson-Smith, Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge

Current In-House Research and Trials:

Nutritional Analysis – analysing the nutritional content of milk (protein, calories, fat, carbohydrates) daily for the first 28 days.

Temperature Trials – ensuring that our processes meet HACCP (Food Safety) guidelines by checking milk temperatures during defrosting, storage and transport.

Equipment – testing our equipment is functioning as it should (eg cap sealer, pasteurisers)

To find out more please contact us.