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Prevention/Epidemiology

FDA Cautions Against Using Secondhand Breast Milk

January 5, 2012

Health experts are warning about the potential dangers of breast milk-sharing.

Nonprofit US breast milk banks reported $9 million in annual sales in 2010. Buyers include mothers who do not produce enough of their own milk to breastfeed, those with medical issues, and adoptive and gay parents. The milk banks screen donors and treat the donated milk. But about 3 percent of 1,019 potential donors screened positive for antibodies to diseases like HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis, according to a 2010 study in the Archives of Disease in Childhood Fetal and Neonatal Edition. Its authors concluded that casual sharing from unscreened donors may carry "significant risk."

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Breastfeeding & HIV/AIDS

Reader Comments:

Comment by: L. Callahan (Eugene, OR USA) Tue., Jan. 10, 2012 at 2:56 pm EST
These safety warnings do not reflect the altruism that motivates women to share their breastmilk with families in need--it is an insult to women in this country and around the world that they would knowingly donate unsafe milk. Rather than caution against using directly-donated milk, the U.S. FDA and Surgeon General should educate the general public about ways to mitigate risks through safe milk handling, donor/recipient screening, and at-home pasteurization methods.

Read "Milk sharing: from private practice to public pursuit" by James E Akre, Karleen D Gribble and Maureen Minchin

http://www.internationalbreastfeedingjournal.com/content/6/1/8
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Comment by: Anonymous Mon., Jan. 9, 2012 at 11:19 pm EST
"Safety warnings about the practice come from a patriarchal system that devalues women"?

You've got to be kidding me. Political agendas are sometimes science and medicine's worst enemy.
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