Breastmilk Sharing Due To Formula Shortage, Here Are The Risks

During the current baby formula shortage, you may be looking for alternatives, assuming you are a baby yourself or need to feed a baby. And despite what actress Bette Midler may have tweeted recently, you may not necessarily have breastmilk “on demand,” as I described it for. Forbes May 15. After all, boobs aren’t latte machines. And you can’t just buy a pair of boobs if you don’t have them. So maybe you have considered getting breastmilk from somewhere or someone else, especially after seeing breastmilk sharing conversations on social media. Keep in mind, however, that such sharing can be quite bold. Without proper precautions, such sharing within, so to speak, could lead to a number of different risks.

This CBS Cincinnati LOCAL 12 a news segment reported how a number of parents and caregivers have sought to create breastmilk sharing groups on social media:

Putting something found on social media on you or your baby’s body can, in some cases, be like finding a donut on the floor of a subway and eating it. You don’t know where it happened and you have to be careful what you hear and find on social media or the internet in general. Sharing breastmilk isn’t the same as sharing photos, Kardashian opinions, or weed killer.

Remember that breast milk is a bodily fluid. And there’s a reason you probably don’t easily share bottles of other types of bodily fluids with people you don’t know well. A jug of any bodily fluid usually doesn’t make a good housewarming gift. Additionally, bodily fluids, such as breast milk, can carry a variety of pathogens and dangerous substances depending on who produced them and how they were handled.

Of course, not all bodily fluids are the same. They may differ in their likelihood of carrying different pathogens and substances. However, you should closely monitor anyone who gives breast milk. In this case, screening doesn’t just mean looking at someone’s profile pictures or asking them “where do you see yourself in five years” or “what are you passionate about in life? This means knowing the health and health-related habits of the breastmilk donor. That’s why the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine in 2017 came up with guidelines on how any breastmilk bank should screen all potential breastmilk donors. The guidelines begin by saying, “Donors must be in good health.” This doesn’t mean you have to ask the giver to do push-ups or run through an obstacle course. However, this means the donor should not be suffering from any significant medical conditions at the time.

The guidelines also state that the donor should not take any medicines or herbal preparations that could be problematic for the baby. It is important to obtain a verifiable list of all medications and supplements the donor is taking and search for them in the Drugs and Breastfeeding Database, otherwise known as LactMed. For each drug or supplement, LactMed includes a summary of how it should be used during lactation, levels that may be present in mother, milk and infant, and potential effects on lactation, breast milk and breastfed infants.

In addition, the donor must be negative for the following viruses: human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus and human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1). Such viruses could end up in breast milk and in turn infect the infant. This should not be a situation where one takes the word of the giver. Looks aren’t enough either. You can’t just say “oh, that person doesn’t look like hep”. Instead, a negative designation must be based on an official lab test result that was recently performed.

Finally, the guidelines listed several “social practices” that the donor should not have. One uses illegal drugs, marijuana, tobacco, or any other product that contains nicotine, such as nicotine gum, nicotine patches, or e-cigarettes. Another consumes alcohol above certain limits. This includes more than 1.5 ounces (or 44ml) of hard liquor or spirits, 12 ounces (355ml) of beer, 5 ounces (148ml) of wine, or 10 ounces (296ml) of wine coolers each day . A third is either engaging in activities at risk of HIV transmission or having had a sexual partner during the 12 months who may have been at higher risk of contracting or having HIV.

Of course, doing all of this screening and taking the appropriate precautions takes time, effort, resources, and expertise. This is why the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “recommends that you do not give your baby breast milk acquired directly from individuals or through the Internet.” Indeed, “when breast milk is obtained directly from individuals or via the Internet, it is unlikely that the donor has been adequately screened for infectious diseases or the risk of contamination. Additionally, breast milk is unlikely to have been collected, processed, tested, or stored in a way that reduces potential safety risks to the baby.

Even if the donor meets all of the above criteria, they may not be pumping, handling, and storing breast milk properly. For example, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Women’s Health advises against storing breast milk at room temperature for more than four hours or in the refrigerator for more than four days after pumping. If any of these limits can be exceeded, it is best to freeze breast milk as soon as possible after expressing. Naturally, everyone should avoid touching breast milk directly and thoroughly clean any containers or other objects that may come into contact with breast milk. Otherwise, bad things can grow in the milk and turn it into Salmonella shot or another type of pathogen-laden meal.

There are certainly legit human milk banks that can provide safe breast milk as follows hello america segment mentioned:

The FDA recommends that before you even consider using someone else’s milk, talk to your doctor, a real doctor. Your doctor can then help you decide if donated milk is the best route and, if so, help you identify an appropriate breast milk bank. Your state’s Department of Health and the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) may also offer additional guidance. The way to find a legit source of milk is through legit sources. Again, just because a place is called a milk bank doesn’t mean you can rely on its legitimacy or adherence to proper guidelines and procedures. The formula for finding a formula alternative isn’t just about finding a source of breastmilk.

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