Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sharing breast milk is totally acceptable !

Again the negative press trots out stupid health advice. This time is the repeating the mantra from the FDA that you shouldn't share breast milk. In my book sharing breast milk is total acceptable, and in fact should be supported or even encouraged.

A short history lesson would be timely. Breast milk banks were very common until the mid 80's. Mum's would take in excess breast milk, and mum's who for whatever reason who needed some would pick it up. What happened in the mid 80's...... the AIDS problem. Overnight the breast milk banks were shut down as it was found that breast milk can contain the AIDS virus. So instead of screening breast milk for the virus (like they do with blood) they just shut them down.

Now Peter Hartman in Perth WA started a few years ago developing a pasteurization process that doesn't destroy the bioactive activity in the milk. Last time I checked he was very close to success however this has yet to rolled out around the world. Therefore milk banks are very uncommon, but good news they are on the increase.

So where else can a mum who has breast feeding issues or other complications get breast milk from? Only here friends. Now the probability that you have a friend breast feeding and can "spare" the extra milk is rather low. Breast feeding mum's especially in the USA were breast feeding isn't "normal" often join support groups that can help them. Therefore these group are also on facebook (I belong to one in the South Island - go figure). Hence people would be using this tool to obtain the precious milk.

My recommendation - AIDS is only found in breast milk when you (a) are not exclusively breast feeding - ie you sometimes get a milk back up in the mammary gland or (b) you have mastitis. Both of these force open the tight junctions isolating the milk from the blood. Now most people wouldn't donate breast milk if they had mastitis...... and if mum is not felling "full" for long periods then breast milk has a low probability that it contains nasty viruses. If mum say has a cold, the antigens and immunity bits kick into the breast milk, so common viruses pose a very low risk, cause if they are in the milk, the milk is highly like to have the antidote as well. 

Therefore be wise with your friends!Don't accept milk from a drug addict! Seriously though, people who are from lower social economic groups have higher probability of diseases such as meningitis and liver issues. Therefore my advice is only accept milk from women who you have known for a while and have a lifestyle (and lack of disease) that you are comfortable with. If this is unavailable ie relationship is online, asking some quesitons around health, lifestyle etc would be wise.

To me the risks of tainted breast milk are low especially as people donating breast milk would have to be rather passionate about health to consider donation. Also the benefits of breast milk would be significant, and in my personal option worth the risk. In my mind the risk of feeding formula is worse than the risk of feeding someone elses breast milk.    

No comments:

Post a Comment