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Information on Used Breast Pumps
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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 :

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