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January 24, 2011

Women sharing breast milk

breastfeeding momI blogged last week about a new emphasis the federal government is putting on breast feeding, but because of health reasons many mothers aren't able to do it even if they want to.

To get the benefits that come with breast feeding, some mothers are getting their breast milk from other women. An NPR article explores the practice.

The article talks about a facebook group called "Eats on Feets" that helps moms find women willing to donate breast milk. The idea is for mothers to be able to get the milk for free.

But the Food and Drug Administration warns that feeding babies donated milk leaves them exposed to diseases, such as HIV. The NPR article said that there are milk banks that mothers can use where the women who donate are tested for diseases.

In promoting breast feeding last week the Surgeon General's office pointed to research that has shown breastfeeding protects babies from infection and illnesses, such as diarrhea and pneumonia. Breastfed babies are also less likely to develop asthma, according to the surgeon general's office. Babies who breastfeed for six months are less likely to become obese.

Breastfeeding is also good for moms who have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

But is it worth taking the risk of using another women's breast milk? What do readers think?


Posted by Andrea Walker at 4:47 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Pediatrics


It is worth it, yes. It can be safe if done correctly. If the woman donating has testing done and provides the results to the recipient family. Also, making sure the woman donating knows the proper handling procedures for the milk.

I've donated milk to different families following the birth of both of my surrogate babies. It is a very fulfilling thing to do.

I was reading the other post as well and don't understand. With all the businesses screaming about rising healthcare costs, you'd think they would understand it's cheaper to boost a baby's immune system by supporting breastfeeding than to deal with parents constantly staying home to care for ill children. They give smokers breaks to ruin their lungs, and we'll have to pick up the tag when they get cancer. Why can't we encourage healthy behavior as well?

I think milk banks are preferred but there are problems with them. For starters, there are only 10 milk banks in the US and Canada. You must be able to donate 100 oz -- just shy of a gallon.

Unfortunately many insurance companies refuse to cover the cost of milk from a milk bank, leaving many families unable to afford human milk.

Ideally we would enforce the WHO standards: breastmilk from the mother; if that isn't possible, breastmilk from a donor; and if neither is possible then a breastmilk substitute.

Ideally we also would offer paid leave to give mother time to establish a healthy breastfeeding relationship before returning to work, a clean space to pump and store milk, and worker protections for pumping mothers.

At the moment, we require only that employers with 50+ employees provider a space for women to pump. There are a few additional state laws but nothing with teeth.

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About Picture of Health
Meredith CohnMeredith Cohn has been a reporter since 1991, covering everything from politics and airlines to the environment and medicine. A runner since junior high and a particular eater for almost as long, she tries to keep up on health and fitness trends. Her aim is to bring you the latest news and information from the local and national medical and wellness communities.

Andrea K. WalkerAndrea K. Walker knows it’s weird to some people, but she has a fascination with fitness, diseases, medicine and other health-related topics. She subscribes to a variety of health and fitness magazines and becomes easily engrossed in the latest research in health and science. An exercise fanatic, she’s probably tried just about every fitness activity there is. Her favorites are running, yoga and kickboxing. So it is probably fitting that she has been assigned to cover the business of healthcare and to become a regular contributor to this blog. Andrea has been at The Sun for nearly 10 years, covering manufacturing, retail , airlines and small and minority business. She looks forward to telling readers about the latest health news.

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