Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Breast milk for sick and premature babies

Here is an interesting article with my comments after:

A US firm is looking to commercialise breast milk by selling it to hospitals for the treatment of sick babies.

Prolacta Bioscience, a small company just outside of LA, also wants to carry out research to develop breast milk based therapies.

Breast milk, with it's minerals, digestive enzymes and antibodies, has long been credited with keeping babies healthy and boosting intelligence.

But experts say it would put pressure on mothers to sell their milk.

Until now breast milk donation in the US and UK has largely been confined to a handful of non-profit milk banks that collect milk on a local basis to provide it to premature and sick infants whose mothers struggle to breast feed.

But Prolacta is aiming to buy donated breast milk from independent milk banks and hospitals across the US, pasteurise it and sell it back to hospitals to treat low-birth weight babies.

It is also looking to supply it for babies with heart defects, who need surgery and are at risk of infection, and children who are being given chemotherapy for cancer.

And the firm wants to analyze the different components of breast milk - there are more than 100,000 although scientists only know what a few thousand do - to see if breast milk therapies can treat disease common to newborn babies.

Prolacta chief executive Elena Medo said: "To our knowledge this is the first and only facility of its kind in the world.

"Human breast milk is really an incredible therapy. Let's try to develop processes where we can preserve every bit of its nutrients and the potent antiviral and all of its diseases fighting properties."

But the Human Milk Banking Association of North America questioned the "buying and selling" of human milk.

It said introducing the profit motive might pressure women and medical institutions to provide milk to a bank regardless of the needs of their own babies.

Rosie Dodds, policy research officer at the National Childbirth Trust, said she could understand the concerns.

But added: "There is a need for more mothers to come forward to give their milk, the whole issue needs to be valued more. I can see both sides of the argument.

"However, I don't think it would work in the UK as it would prove too expensive for hospitals."



My comments: I think this is a FABULOUS idea. The two drawbacks in this article are silly. The first one, that women would feel pressure to sell their milk - Women will be given the option to sell their milk, but I'm sure the information wouldn't be presented in a pressured way. Any pressure they feel would have to be self inflicted. I don't see that as a huge problem and certainly not one that outweighs the benefits. The second drawback about the hospitals not being able to afford it, that may be true, but just because a treatment option is expensive doesn't mean we shouldn't pursue it. Breast milk will certainly assist babies in getting better.

Now what are the positives?...

#1 Breast milk will become more highly valued in society. Believe it or not, there are still huge portions of the population that don't know that breast milk is better for babies than formula. (Many poor people especially). Breastfeeding rates in this country are still pathetic. By putting a dollar value on breast milk it will increase awareness for the good that breast milk does. When more people recognize breast milk as the preferable food source for babies, maybe more will do it.

#2 Sick and premature babies would have more access to breast milk, which would help them get better faster. Even if this were the only benefit, it would be enough.

#3 This may sound funny, but stay-at home mom's don't have a lot of income options. I'd love a way to make a few extra bucks without leaving my baby. Depending on what they pay, I'd jump at the chance to do it.


Finally, this last comment of mine isn't really about the pros/cons of the idea. I remember hearing stories of women whose babies were accidentally switched for a feeding or two in the hospital (one of these women were on Dr. Phil - maybe you saw it). Anyway, these women FREAKED OUT. They were so horrified. But the truth is, not too long ago, wet nurses were kept to feed the rich people's babies. Before formula was invented, the only way to sustain a baby when their mother couldn't was for another woman to breastfeed. It is not that weird of an idea. I thought these women totally over reacted. I understand there is a small possibility of disease transmission, but in today's hospitals they won't let you breastfeed if you have a disease you could give to your baby, so that's a pretty minute risk.

Maybe if this program were in place, women like that would get a chance to see that other women are PAYING for other women's breast milk.

I have my own stories of baby swapping. When my sister in law was engorged I gave her my baby to help breastfeed. Also, I've tried breastfeeding my own nieces and nephews. Ha ha. I know that sounds crazy in this society, but lighten up people. Breast feeding is so normal. And for all you squeamish people out there, you'll be happy to know that none of the babies were interested in the offers because they could smell that it wasn't their mommy. :)

Oh and since I'm on the topic, I was bra shopping yesterday for a special event. I needed a strapless. The problem was, I went in the store "empty" so I didn't quite fit the size I knew I would need. Frustrating. Can I get an amen from fellow breastfeeders?

1 Comments:

  • At 12:56 AM, Blogger KatyM said…

    Interesting story, thank you for sharing.
    It sounds like they want to obtain and distribute the milk in a similar way as to how blood and blood products are obtained for hospitals.
    As a post-partum RN and nursing (almost 5 years total) mom I really find that fascinating.
    Looking forward to reading more of your blog.
    BTW, I got to you from ourhomeschool.blog-city.com and invite you to come check out my blog if you are interested at http://www.riversedgeurbanacademy.blogspot.com
    Peace.
    And amen about the bra fitting. My almost 2 year old is self-weaning and I'm back to barely being a b cup. And sadly, (as I am only 28) they are pointing at the ground! Oh well, the 3 babies worth of stretch marks probably killed my shot at being a bikini model anyway!

     

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