FDA Meets Today on Breast Milk Sharing

As previously reported in this post, casual milk sharing between mothers unable to produce enough breast milk and those willing to donate their extra supply has become an extremely popular practice—especially with the help of the Internet. Sites like Facebook, which hosts the popular milk sharing network Eats on Feets, have been instrumental in connecting mothers and facilitating the process. Today, the FDA meets to discuss the implications of this non-standard milk sharing.

Last week, they issued this warning announcing the “FDA recommends against feeding your baby breast milk acquired directly from individuals or through the Internet. When human milk is obtained directly from individuals or through the Internet, the donor is unlikely to have been adequately screened for infectious disease or contamination risk.”

The statement goes on to say the ”FDA recommends that if, after consultation with a healthcare provider, you decide to feed a baby with human milk from a source other than the baby’s mother, you 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 FDA will share the findings from todays’ meeting in a report later this week.

How do you feel about milk sharing? Would the FDA’s stance deter you from participating in the practice?

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  1. by adrienne

    On December 6, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    It’s better to work for a reputable milk bank in your community than it is to put your child at risk for bloodborne pathogens, bacteria from poor storage, and other great unknowns.

    Milk banks, like blood banks, screen through testing and thorough questionnaires that evaluate a person’s history and risks.

    My husband, like most military brats from the 80s and 90s, spent too much time in Europe during the mad cow years to be a fit donor. His elimination from the blood supply made him sad, but he wouldn’t want to pass an unscreenable, untreatable condition on to anyone else.

    Sometimes our aversion to waste (especially with something as emotional and hard-fought as breast milk) makes us less sensible about the quality of the gift. Was the donor’s freezer ever wonky? Were shipments prompt and appropriately packaged? Did they get a celebratory tattoo or piercing after their child’s birth and contract Hepatitis that’s yet to be diagnosed? Do they drink or take prescription drugs?

    Such donor systems require an element of trust, but they’re a huge improvement upon random giving (or even worse- selling).