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Information on Used Breast Pumps

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 :