2 reasons why sharing breast milk may pose a health risk for your baby
Know these potential risks before calling on other moms to share their breast milk with your baby.
There are fortunate moms who are able to produce a seemingly endless supply of breast milk, while there are those who struggle with producing enough, no matter how hard they try. Nowadays, these two types of mommies can help each other out through breast milk sharing.
Babies who are considered vulnerable can benefit from breast milk sharing. These are newborns who are premature or malnourished, infants confined to neonatal intensive care units, infants without mothers, and those whose moms are seriously ill or incapable of breastfeeding.
How sharing breast milk works
The idea of sharing breast milk is not new to the Philippines. In fact, there are several hospitals, organizations and even social media groups that exist to facilitate breast milk donations in the country.
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Philippine General Hospital, for instance, gratefully accepts donations from mothers. In 2013, Makati opened the country’s first Local Government Unit (LGU)-run milk bank. Milk requests and milk offers are easily done on Facebook as well, for example, through the Human Milk 4 Human Babies – The Philippines page.
Of course, personal networks are usually explored first before going to milk banks.
Click "Continue reading" for the pros and cons of sharing breast milk.
The benefits of sharing breast milk
Some moms choose to remain within their own circles when calling for breast milk help, asking their friend and family members who are lactating to share a little extra liquid gold whenever possible. This allows them to exclusively breastfeed their babies despite their own limited supply.
Others ask for help for emergency reasons. Working mom, Janel Siapno, did just that after her baby, Adria Isabel, was born. Belle was born prematurely at 25 weeks, and after a month in the NICU, she still weighed less than 900 grams.
Janel immediately called out to those she knew to help her with breast milk donations, and also posted requests for help online. Through friends, she was able to collect enough milk to nourish Belle during her confinement, and bring her up to a more stable weight.
That was two years ago, and now the 35-year-old mom is excitedly preparing for Belle’s second birthday party.
Risks faced when sharing breast milk
Despite its benefits, however, there are risks involved in sharing breast milk with other moms. Recent reports in the US show that some human breast milk advertised online contained traces of cow DNA along with human DNA.
Within the study, 10 samples were found to contain high enough cow DNA to rule out accidental contamination. This suggests that donors mix cow’s milk into their human milk when it is sold. This poses a problem for infants with an intolerance or allergy.
And while there is always the option of coursing milk from a trusted source or someone you know personally, keep in mind that there are risks involved there as well.
For example, medicines, allergens, and other substances ingested by the donor mom may be transferred to your baby through breast milk sharing. There is also the risk of contamination when expressing and storing milk.
To be on the safe side, choose reputable milk banks when seeking for donations. Checking for accreditations and asking other moms for recommendations helps a lot.
If you are receiving milk from someone you know personally, only do so when you trust her lifestyle. This is one case wherein your baby’s safety is in your own hands.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patricia de Castro-Cuyugan
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