Posts Tagged ‘ breastfeeding ’

Donated, Commercial Breast Milk Often Tainted

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Breast milk that is either donated or sold online is often tainted with bacteria that could sicken a baby, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics.  The growing industry of donated or commercially available breastmilk is unregulated, and so is difficult to track and maintain safety measures.  More from The New York Times:

“The study makes you worry,” said Dr. Richard A. Polin, the director of neonatology and perinatology at Columbia University, who was not involved in the research. “This is a potential cause of disease. Even with a relative, it’s probably not a good idea to share.”

After a spate of research showing that breast milk protects infants from infections and other ailments, health care providers in recent years have strongly encouraged new mothers to abandon formula and to breast-feed. But this can be a difficult challenge. Parents who have adopted, for instance, or have had mastectomies — or who simply do not produce enough milk — often rely on donated or purchased breast milk.

“Milk-sharing” Web sites host classified advertisements from women wishing to buy, sell or donate breast milk. “My daughter is two months old and has gained five pounds and grown three inches since birth!” reads one ad. “I have a serious oversupply and I am looking to free up room in my freezer.”

Some sites discourage paying for breast milk, while others actively endorse the practice. Advertisements from some sellers play up the convenience and price, which can be as low as $1.50 an ounce. But many women wish to donate milk simply to help out fellow mothers in need.

 

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Insurance Companies Slow to Provide Required Breastfeeding Services

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

The Affordable Care Act, which is at the center of the debate that’s brought Washington to a standstill this week, requires insurance companies to pay for breast pumps and lactation consulting services for new mothers, as part of a women’s health initiative that is meant to encourage breastfeeding.  As The New York Times reports, though, insurance companies aren’t getting the services to enough women since the new rules took effect January 1:

Despite the law, many new mothers have found it nearly impossible to get timely help for breast-feeding problems since Jan. 1, when health insurers began updating their coverage. While a 2011 Surgeon General’s report hailed lactation consultants as important specialists, few insurers have added them to their networks.

Some insurers simply point women to pediatricians not necessarily trained in lactation. Even then, women often must locate help on their own, leading to delays that jeopardize a mother’s milk supply.

Breast-feeding advocates fear this mandate is falling victim to bureaucratic foot-dragging, cost-saving and ambivalence.

“It’s abysmal, the state of lactation services being provided by insurance companies currently,” said Susanne Madden, a founder of the National Breastfeeding Center, which last month published an unsettling assessment of the breast-feeding policies of insurers nationwide. Twenty-eight out of 79 received D’s or F’s.

New mothers face a number of obstacles in breast-feeding, including insufficient milk or a painful infection. Problems must be resolved quickly: when a baby is hungry, there is little time to wrangle with an insurer over payment for a breast pump or a lactation consultant. A delay can mean that mothers turn to formula, don’t establish an adequate supply, or quit.

Image: Breastfeeding mother, via Shutterstock

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More Moms Shortening Maternity Leaves

Monday, September 30th, 2013

New moms are increasingly shortening their maternity leaves, citing financial and personal pressures as reasons for going back to work within weeks of giving birth.  Analysis of data from the National Center for Health Statistics shows that as many as half of new mothers are shortening their leaves by half.  More from Today.com:

About two-thirds of U.S. women are employed during pregnancy and about 70 percent of them report taking some time off, according to most recent figures from the National Center for Health Statistics. The average maternity leave in the U.S. is about 10 weeks, but about half of new moms took at least five weeks, with about a quarter taking nine weeks or more, figures showed.

But a closer look shows that 16 percent of new moms took only one to four weeks away from work after the birth of a child — and 33 percent took no formal time off at all, returning to job duty almost immediately.

That means more women are coping with pregnancy-weary bodies, the demands of a newborn and the demands of a boss — all before the “Welcome, Baby” flowers have wilted on the bedside table.

Research has shown that shorter leaves can interfere with recommended breastfeeding duration and may contribute to higher rates of depression among new moms.

Image: Working mom, via Shutterstock

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Many Medications Safe While Breastfeeding, Pediatrician Panel Says

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) finds that breastfeeding women can safely use many medications without harming their infants.

Experts from the AAP Committee on Drugs also noted that some doctors give moms inaccurate advice that they must quit nursing or stop taking certain medicines to keep their babies safe. From Reuters:

“Sometimes people are told that, because physicians may be worried about the risks the drug may pose … and aren’t necessarily thinking about the potential benefit of breastfeeding,” Dr. Hari Cheryl Sachs, the lead author on the report, said.

That benefit includes a lower risk of ear infections, asthma and sudden infant death syndrome, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Sachs said properties of the drug itself, whether it’s being used on a long- or short-term basis and the age and health of the infant all affect how safe it is to use medication while breastfeeding.

“It’s hard to make a blanket recommendation on what drugs are fine for the mother, because it’s going to depend on multiple factors,” Sachs, from the Pediatric and Maternal Health Team in the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, told Reuters Health.

If breastfeeding women have questions about specific medications, Sachs recommends that they talk with their doctors and check LactMed, a website run by the National Institutes of Health. Again from Reuters:

[LactMed] includes the most up-to-date scientific knowledge on how much of a given drug is passed to an infant during breastfeeding, its effects on babies and possible alternatives to consider.

In its report, published Monday in Pediatrics, the committee focused on a few classes of drugs, including antidepressants, narcotics and smoking cessation aids.

Limited information is available on the long-term effects of antidepressants on babies, it wrote, and because the drugs take a long time to break down, levels could build up in infants’ bodies.

“Caution is advised” for certain powerful painkillers such as codeine and hydrocodone—but others including morphine are considered safer when used at the lowest possible dose and for the shortest possible time, pediatricians said.

Nicotine replacement therapy, especially gum and lozenges, is typically considered safe to use during breastfeeding, according to the committee. However the FDA discourages the use of stop-smoking drugs such as varenicline, marketed in the U.S. as Chantix, among women who breastfeed.

The risk of exposure to any drug for babies needs to be weighed against the drug’s importance for the mother as well as the benefits of breastfeeding, researchers noted.

Image: Prescription medication via Shutterstock

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Longer Breastfeeding Improves Brain Development

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

The longer a mother breastfeeds, the more impact she has on her baby’s brain development, according to new research published in JAMA Pediatrics.  The New York Times has more on the study, which was conducted by researchers from Harvard Medical School:

For each additional month a baby was breast-fed, verbal ability was higher at age 3, and verbal and nonverbal I.Q. scores were higher at age 7, the study concluded. The researchers accounted for factors like the mothers’ intelligence and employment, home environment and child care.

“One of the theories as to why breast-fed children tend to have better cognitive development is there are nutrients in breast milk that benefit the baby’s developing brain,” said Dr. Mandy Brown Belfort, a neonatologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and lead author of the study.

“Our results support policies that allow women to continue breast-feeding through a year of their child’s life to optimize brain development,” Dr. Belfort said.

Image: Breastfeeding mother, via Shutterstock

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