Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

The story:
Breast Milk Donated or Sold Online Is Often Tainted, Study Says

Basically, doctors bought breastmilk from people who offered it online. Many of the women they contacted opted out, no one knew it was for a study, they tested the milk and found it wasn't clean.

As a milk donor I found the whole study to be totally weird, and I'm not the only one. My first concern: if pumped milk has bacteria, why are you cautioning people about donating it, shouldn't you start with the vast majority of us who feed it to our own babies? Yes I wash my hands before I pump, and wash all the parts that come into contact with milk after I'm done pumping, is there more to it than that? Because the milk I donated was literally exactly the same as the milk I was feeding my own baby at home.

Then the more I read about the study the more I realized how different their milk was from what I donated... they asked moms to ship milk, no questions asked, no refrigeration required [DrJackNewman]. It's no surprise that most of the moms abandoned the idea. When I donated, I talked to the families, knew who they were and why they needed the milk, they showed up with a cooler, the milk went straight from my freezer to a cooler to their freezer. From what I've heard, this method is vastly more common for donating milk.

Breastfeeding advocates are saying that publicity about this study is more about "this perception people have of women and their dirty feminine fluids that need to be kept under control" [the verge] and I couldn't agree more.

it just makes me want to repeat what I've already said about breastfeeding: How important is it? Is it important enough that we should find low-cost ways to get more human milk to more babies? Then how about we find some supportive suggestions for milk donors, instead of testing milk of the crazy people who you can talk out of common sense?


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 2nd, 2013 09:02 pm (UTC)
… no refrigeration? One wouldn't ship a bottle of cow's milk from the store without refrigeration! Of course bacteria proliferated!

SHEESH. Unsurprisingly, I completely agree with you.
Nov. 2nd, 2013 09:31 pm (UTC)
I'm really surprised mamas would agree to ship without refrigeration. Mamas committed to milk sharing wouldn't do that. This just further illustrates the divide between mamas who donate because they want to make sure every baby has the opportunity for breast milk, and mamas who sell it because they can.
Nov. 2nd, 2013 10:15 pm (UTC)
Mmm, I'm not sure I can so dismiss everyone who finds a financial recompense for her breast milk; I don't know everyone's situation, and I know some people need the monetary help. I think the divide most clearly demonstrated here is between the few convinced to participate in this cockamamie study* and the vast majority of the generous women who supply breast milk to others' babies.

*:seriously, just from what tiny bit I know of experimental design this one looks really bad.
Nov. 2nd, 2013 10:27 pm (UTC)
I'm not dismissing everyone who chooses to charge for their breast milk. I'd be lying if I said that the thought to do so hadn't crossed my mind before.

What I am saying is that the motivation for mothers who sell and mothers who donate is generally very different, and I think that probably plays out here. When I donated breast milk, I did not ask for any financial compensation from the women I donated to, even as I could have absolutely used it to at least off-set the cost of the storage bags. What was more important to me was that babies in need got that food.

However, if your bottom line is to turn a profit, and not be invested in what happens to the milk in the process, I can see shipping it without refrigeration. A mama who is donating at the expense of her time and money isn't likely to do that, simply by the virtue of the fact she's already invested so much of herself in connecting with someone for that product that putting it all to waste by failing to refrigerate properly for shipping is not nearly as likely to happen.

I'd like to give the sellers the benefit of the doubt, but since it was specifically stated women were not told it was part of a study, it's unlikely they were told to ship it without proper refrigeration.

Edited at 2013-11-02 10:28 pm (UTC)
Nov. 2nd, 2013 09:30 pm (UTC)
Emma Kwasnica (the same woman at the heart of all the kerfluffle with Facebook over deleting breastfeeding photos and who founded Human Milk 4 Human Babies, which links donor mamas with recipient families) tried to talk to the study authors but last I heard, they had refused to return her call.

She has been pretty vocal in citing the problems with this so-called study. According to CNN, "Emma Kwasnica, founder of Human Milk 4 Human Babies, said the study in itself was problematic, because most milk is donated without profit, at a local community level, and rarely is transported for several days to get to a recipient. Kwasnica did agree that the study showed how “milk is expressed, stored, and transported is important.”

I think she does a great job at getting to the heart of the issue here.
Nov. 2nd, 2013 09:32 pm (UTC)
I have both received and donated milk with different children. I definitely screened well in both directions. I know why the donors were pumping, why they have all this milk to give to a stranger's baby. They also knew why I was stockpiling milk for my own children. When the situation changed and I was donating, I donated to a woman planning to adopt a newborn who knew she would not keep up with demand through induced lactation, to a woman who had a late hemorrhage poorly managed and never got a full supply of milk, and to a mother who had a very difficult birth and an extended separation from her baby who had some unknown-at-the-time issues of his own. I still remember all this years later!
Nov. 3rd, 2013 02:14 am (UTC)
they also didn't differentiate between types of bacteria (and some are indeed beneficial), as well as many other issues with this study. I think we can file it in the "scare tactics" category of crap.
Nov. 3rd, 2013 07:45 pm (UTC)
I've been looking for local milk donors (I'm supplementing Lia with about 10 oz / day of formula), and ran into that article just as I was posting my requests in various milksharing communities. It gave me brief pause, until I really dug in and found out what the study was all about and how it was conducted. I thought it was a poor study and still felt confident in looking for donors.

I do like your point about needing to ask how important breastfeeding really is. I've had one woman approach me saying she had a deep freezer full and then some, and her baby was born within a couple of weeks of mine, so when she said she could help me out, I was thrilled. Upon trading messages back and forth over the last couple of days now, though, it has emerged that instead of just asking me to cover the cost of the storage bags (which I'd preemptively offered in my request ad), that she is willing to give me the first 100 oz for just the cost of bags, but after that it will be 50 cents - $1.00 per oz. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr. You know, if she hadn't said anything, I probably would have been grateful enough to do some nice things for her anyway (but more along the lines of gift cards to Target or a local restaurant instead of cash), but now I can't trust her at all, so I'm thinking I'm just going to say "screw it" and order Holle formula online and keep on doing what I'm doing, just with 'better' formula. For me, getting breastmilk is NOT worth the risk that a woman like that might dilute her milk down to get more sellable oz.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

Latest Month

October 2018
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow