Breast Milk Banks Want Donations
All babies are born hungry into the world but not all mothers produce enough breast milk to be able to feed their babies from birth. And this is where the breast milk banks jump in. Unfortunately, they are having difficulties meeting the demand, while the doctors are forced to prescribe it almost exclusively to prematurely born infants for whom breast milk is particularly important. On the one hand, breast milk banks and health experts are excited about the increased demand for breast milk because it reveals that it is finally becoming appreciated. But on the other hand, both the banks and doctors are concerned over lack of sufficient amounts of human milk. Although baby formula provides more or less all the necessary nutrients infants need for healthy growth and development, it does not provide antibodies which protect the infants from a number of infectious diseases and provide them immunity against some illnesses up to six months.
All babies receive antibodies from their mothers via the placenta during pregnancy but they also receive them in large amounts from breast milk. This clearly demonstrate the results of several studies which compared the infection rates between breast- and formula-fed babies. Just about all studies found that breastfeeding dramatically reduces the risk of infections. Furthermore, there are evidence that breast milk may also reduce the risk of allergies and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Unfortunately, breast milk banks are facing serious problems providing enough human milk supply to the hospitals and mothers who do not produce enough breast milk to feed their babies exclusively with their own milk.
According to the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, the 10 banks across the country can provide less than 25 percent of the needed breast milk. For that reason most of the milk is received by preemies weighting up to 3 ounces who are the most vulnerable. However, all babies benefit from human breast milk and all babies should receive it. The banks are therefore urging breastfeeding mothers who have “spare” milk to donate it and help the babies whose mothers do not have enough milk supply.
Donation of breast milk does not cost anything. All the necessary paperwork, blood exams, screening, etc. are taken care of and paid by the banks. To cover their expenses the banks, however, have to charge the recipients of the milk. Some mothers complain that bank milk is very expensive which has led to direct donations of breast milk between the mothers, typically via the Internet. This eliminates the need to pay for banked milk, however, the FDA strongly advices against this practice due to high risk of diseases. It is important to be aware that it is possible to spread potentially dangerous bacteria and viruses to the baby via breast milk which makes uncontrolled breast milk sharing is extremely dangerous. Breast milk that is supplied by the milk banks, on the other hand, is completely safe because it is checked for all potential pathogens and pasteurized before it is sent to the hospitals and mothers who were prescribed human breast milk.
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