Ask AF: Breast Milk Versus Formula

All new parents have questions about feeding. AF compares the pros and cons of breast milk vs. formula for adopted babies.

Q: I keep hearing about the benefits of breastfeeding. Should adoptive parents make the effort to feed infants breast milk or formula?


A: At our clinic, we used to share donor breast milk with adoptive parents, especially those who had adopted pre-term infants. But this practice has ended, as the medical community has discovered that blood-borne pathogens, particularly HIV, can be passed through breast milk.

Adoptive moms may choose to breastfeed, although the success rate is fairly low. Even when taking hormones, it’s difficult to achieve full lactation, and if a child has been bottle fed for several months, he’s usually hesitant to latch onto a breast. But I wouldn’t worry about using formula – most of the options on the market are perfectly fine, and will provide the nutrients your baby needs.

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