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More Moms Turning to Donated Milk Found Online

Posted by on Jan. 8, 2013 at 12:22 PM
  • 15 Replies

 Have you thought about donating your milk online or looking for donor milk online? Just a few things to consider first I found here- http://milkshare.birthingforlife.com/donorscreening

Screening Breastmilk Donors

Opinions on donor screening vary from family to family. It is important to acknowledge that certain diseases, including potentially fatal diseases such as HIV, can be transmitted through breastmilk. While milk donors may appear to lead extremely healthy lives, certain precautions should be taken to protect the child receiving donor milk. There are few laws surrounding milk donation, though in California for example, there is a law barring the sale of human milk. Given that private milk donation in general is not a regulated practice, most recipient families are choosing to follow the lead of milk banks by using the same screening and pasteurization process. Pasteurizing, in addition to bloodwork, milk does minimize risk of transmitting any disease, though pastuerization does also destroy certain beneficial live components of the milk. Please discuss milk donation with a supportive care provider and get their input regarding the appropriate precautions that should be exercised at a minimum. These precautions may include:
  • Having every milk donor screened for HIV 1&2, Hepatitis B&C, Syphillis, and HTLV 1&2 (same blood screening as milk banks)- Bloodwork should be as current as possible
  • Obtaining a completed donor agreement (sample provided) that documents past health history (questions should be based on what milk banks request of their donors) and that informs the donor of the risks of passing certain diseases through breastmilk
  • Pasteurizing milk using a home pasteurizer
  • Discussing proper hygiene with milk donors
  • Discussing lifestyle with milk donors; get to know each donor through multiple contacts
  • Receiving a letter from the donor mother's doctor stating that milk donation poses no risk to her child and that she appears to be in good health.
  • Rejecting milk from donors that do not meet 100% of milk bank criteria, including mothers that are on medications passed through breastmilk (discuss with your care provider, as milk banks may be more stringent than is necessary), mothers unwilling to be blood tested, mothers that can not provide complete health history, or mothers that have an unhealthy lifestyle in any way.

And here's a story in a local paper that I also thought I'd share.  What are your thoughts?

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20130107/NEWS/301070052/More-moms-turn-to-online-sites-to-donate-find-breast-milk?gcheck=1&nclick_check=1

 

Like many new mothers, Alli Perez of Des Moines took a few weeks to settle into a breastfeeding routine with her newborn daughter, Stella. But soon, Perez, 22, was producing large amounts of milk, and her freezer overflowed with frozen bags of pumped milk.

Perez turned to the Internet to seek out mothers in need of breast milk for their own infants. Over 15 months, she donated 12,000 ounces of breast milk — enough to feed a full-term newborn for as many as 480 days — to the parents of seven Iowa infants.

The sharing of milk among mothers is an old practice. Before commercial baby formula, wet nurses fed infants when needed.

Now, as milk banks across the nation suffer from shortages of donor milk, the Web and social media are making it possible for Iowa mothers to easily find, share and even sell their breast milk.

Instead of donating to the milk bank, where it is screened for diseases, then pooled and pasteurized with other donor milk, some mothers like Perez are using websites and Facebook groups to find others in need and reach out directly. Others, using Craigslist and sites like Only The Breast, sell their extra milk.

Jill Kvinlaug of Des Moines had difficulties nursing her first son after breast reduction surgery limited her milk supply.

“I didn’t think (breastfeeding) would be as hard as it was, or as disappointing,” she said.

When her daughter, Eleanor, was born last year, a friend, Jourdan Engesser, offered to donate extra milk she froze while nursing her own 3-month-old infant. That, plus more donated milk from another acquaintance, helped supplement her daughter for several months.

But the practice of sharing milk raises safety concerns, some say, for a precious resource that remains unregulated in Iowa.

Mothers warned as milk demand grows

Using milk found on the Internet is “risky and not safe,” said Jean Drulis, the director and co-founder of the Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa, a program of the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. The bank is one of 13 associated with the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.

Last year, 25 donors to the milk bank association in North America tested positive for diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis and human t-lymphotropic virus, Drulis said.

“These are women who were unaware that they had contracted their respective disease, and the health care providers did not know it,” she said.

In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning against feeding infants breast milk acquired directly from women who are not the mother. Women should “only use milk from a source that has screened its milk donors and taken other precautions to ensure the safety of its milk,” the warning stated.

But no federal regulation of breast milk sharing or selling exists, and the state of Iowa’s Department of Inspections and Appeals says that unless the FDA was to declare breast milk a food, the matter wouldn’t fall under the department’s jurisdiction, according to spokesman David Werning.

Demand for breast milk is outpacing the supply at banks across the nation, due in large part to increased awareness of the benefits of breast milk, which provides critical nutrients for newborns, especially premature infants.

Last month, a California breast milk bank held a donation drive, asking mothers to show up, register and donate milk to the bank.

The 10-year-old Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa, located in Coralville, dispensed more than 80,000 ounces of milk in 2011, Drulis said, with the final 2012 number expected to jump another 20 to 25 percent.

Milk donated to the Iowa bank goes first to premature infants, who need the nutrient-dense, natural milk to meet their high nutritional demands. Other infants may receive donated milk at home with a prescription, and the Iowa bank ships milk to hospitals in other states when supply allows.

Iowa hospitals maintain an inventory of donor milk for its premature newborns.

Dr. Cary Murphy, a neonatologist with Pediatrix Medical Group at Mercy Medical Center, said the hospital, which acts as a collection site for the Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa, follows the FDA recommendations and advises against feeding babies breast milk acquired directly from individuals or through the Internet.

Issues include trust and health choices

Kvinlaug knew who was donating milk for her child, so she had no safety concerns. Her pediatrician, she said, also felt the use of shared milk in this case was safe.

Perez — whose 12,000 ounces donated would have surpassed the Guinness World Record of 11,115 ounces donated by a Texas mother last fall — offered to show her first recipient blood testing, but the family, whose baby used the milk for one year, declined.

The other recipients never requested health records.

Bianca Brashear, who donated through a MilkShare group she found on Yahoo, sent a copy of her blood work to a milk recipient in Minnesota. Over six months, the Altoona woman donated 550 ounces to that mother and a few friends.

But Brashear isn’t certain she would use donor milk if the tables were turned.

“I think I’d look into it and make sure it was from a trusted source,” she said.

LuCinda Beltman of Waukee said none of the four mothers she found through Human Milk 4 Human Babies (http://www.hm4hb.net/) requested her medical history. She was open about her health, medications and lifestyle choices, such as the fact that she drinks one caffeinated drink a day.

She donated more than 2,000 ounces to her best friend and four mothers she found online, meeting them at local businesses to drop off her donation in coolers.

“It’s a real trust thing. They trust that I’m feeding the milk to my son, so it’s safe,” said Beltman, who took her son on deliveries so the moms could see he was a healthy, happy baby.

Donors like Signe Newman of Des Moines take extra precautions, storing donor milk separate from bags for her own child. Newman, the mother of a 2-month-old boy, saved milk for a mother in her playgroup who is fighting cancer and delivered a baby last week.

Casual sharing vs. milk banks

Some women turn to casual sharing because they don’t qualify to use a milk bank.

Nicole Peterman, co-founder of Human Milk 4 Human Babies — Iowa, drove from Urbandale to Minnesota, Nebraska and around central Iowa to pick up thousands of ounces of donated milk for her son.

“That was our only option because I was hard-set against using formula,” she said. “Everyone thought I was crazy.”

She asked donors about their diet and medications and believes they wouldn’t put their own child in danger if they had a health issue. Because she successfully breastfed her second son, Peterman paid it forward, donating extra milk to five families that are part of a holistic families group.

Beltman, of Waukee, said she understands the concerns that milk bank officials have about potential safety issues.

“I think that as a recipient mom, it would be scary to just openly trust someone. But at the same time, if you do implement screening, it’s going to cost money and less people are going to donate,” she said.

Drulis, the Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa director, said the Coralville bank doesn’t charge for milk, since it is donated. Hospitals pay the processing fee of $15 per 100 milliliter to recover the nonprofit’s costs for testing, supplies and transportation. For infants at home, parents are assessed a fee if insurance does not cover the cost. Iowa Medicaid also reviews special cases for parents who need the milk.

Drulis believes women who share milk casually do so with only the best intention: to help. Milk banks take that idea to the next level so that it is completely safe, she said.

“Informal milk sharing is a missed opportunity for the vulnerable infants who rely on their life support from milk banks that can’t meet their demands due to inadequate volume of available milk,” Drulis said.

by on Jan. 8, 2013 at 12:22 PM
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Replies (1-10):
preacherskid
by Silver Member on Jan. 8, 2013 at 8:41 PM

I understand the medical community's concerns about "unregulated" or informal milk sharing.  Being a donor of dairy free milk, I can also understand why a mother would turn to informal milk sharing.  One family I donated to needed dairy free milk for a toddler- having a child over twelve months disqualifies your for banked milk, depite the known benefits to breastmilk in toddler years.  Another family, also needing dairy free milk, mom could not produce enough, but could not afford bank milk.  My current family, baby boy needs milk in large quantities so that it can be thickened, the milk I have was pumped post twelve months, which would exclude it from milk bank donation, and there are no milk banks in our state.  Nearest is Iowa, which has a shortage.  This baby has a lot of donors helping him through just the first year.  In all of these families, dairy free milk is better for baby.  Since a milk bank pools and mixes all donations, there is no guarantee that the milk would be dairy free.  I have a dairy allergic child, and my first instinct would be to seek out a dairy free donor, rather than risk exposure through banked milk or have to give one of my children hypo allergenic formula.   I have offered each parent the opportunity to ask for testing, and decribed my diet and lifestyle.  I only go through established donation communities like Eats on Feets or HM4HB- something like Craigslist is risky to me.   

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PolishMamma2
by Marta on Jan. 8, 2013 at 9:30 PM

 I think milk sharing is awsome. it gives a family a really good gift, and opportunity to have a healthy baby. I Dont on the other hand like milk banks, I  tried donating to a milk bank and was denied because of the fact that I was Born and lived in Poland from 1983-1988...  And that was the only reason they gave me!

hnischke
by Heather on Jan. 8, 2013 at 9:42 PM
I've been trying to find some where to donate milk. I've been EPing for about 3 months for DS. I've been back to work almost 2 months. Since returning to work I've stored almost 400 oz. If things continue at this pace I'm going to start offering "special creamer" in our guests coffee lol. Seriously I'm already needing more freezer space and need a deep freeze just for milk.
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Baby_Avas_Momma
by on Jan. 8, 2013 at 9:53 PM
Have you checked out "Eats on Feets" and "Human Milk for Human Babies" on facebook?

Quoting hnischke:

I've been trying to find some where to donate milk. I've been EPing for about 3 months for DS. I've been back to work almost 2 months. Since returning to work I've stored almost 400 oz. If things continue at this pace I'm going to start offering "special creamer" in our guests coffee lol. Seriously I'm already needing more freezer space and need a deep freeze just for milk.
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hnischke
by Heather on Jan. 8, 2013 at 10:01 PM
1 mom liked this
I have not. I'll look into it. Thank you :)


Quoting Baby_Avas_Momma:

Have you checked out "Eats on Feets" and "Human Milk for Human Babies" on facebook?



Quoting hnischke:

I've been trying to find some where to donate milk. I've been EPing for about 3 months for DS. I've been back to work almost 2 months. Since returning to work I've stored almost 400 oz. If things continue at this pace I'm going to start offering "special creamer" in our guests coffee lol. Seriously I'm already needing more freezer space and need a deep freeze just for milk.

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annaica
by on Jan. 8, 2013 at 10:15 PM
Another idea is to search for local groups such as LLL, hospital based support groups for breastfeeding moms, or talk to your breastfeeding usa counselor about locating a group. Get to know people and you will find there are people that need it! We have 2 organic baby stores and both offer groups for playtime, etc. too and that is how I met a bunch of like-minded local mommas :D

Quoting hnischke:

I have not. I'll look into it. Thank you :)




Quoting Baby_Avas_Momma:

Have you checked out "Eats on Feets" and "Human Milk for Human Babies" on facebook?





Quoting hnischke:

I've been trying to find some where to donate milk. I've been EPing for about 3 months for DS. I've been back to work almost 2 months. Since returning to work I've stored almost 400 oz. If things continue at this pace I'm going to start offering "special creamer" in our guests coffee lol. Seriously I'm already needing more freezer space and need a deep freeze just for milk.

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catholicmamamia
by on Jan. 9, 2013 at 3:57 PM

Giving this a BUMP! 


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illegallyblonde
by Member on Jan. 9, 2013 at 5:25 PM
I have a friend in Chicago who might be interested. Where are you?

Quoting hnischke:

I've been trying to find some where to donate milk. I've been EPing for about 3 months for DS. I've been back to work almost 2 months. Since returning to work I've stored almost 400 oz. If things continue at this pace I'm going to start offering "special creamer" in our guests coffee lol. Seriously I'm already needing more freezer space and need a deep freeze just for milk.
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lorsmommy08
by on Jan. 9, 2013 at 5:29 PM

I did donate my milk while nursing dd1, it was to a mom who adopted a baby/toddler who couldn't tolerate formula. I would never go through or tell someone to go through a bank because I don't like the idea that they pasteurize the milk and charge a lot for it.


pipers_mom
by on Jan. 9, 2013 at 5:44 PM
I like HM4HB and EOF type things more then milk banks. My DS2 has a dairy intolerance and I wouldn't trust that the milk from the bank was dairy free since it's all mixed together. On top of that i couldn't afford to buy milk from a milk bank!
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