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Mums who suffer breastfeeding difficulties are turning to Facebook to source breastmilk donations.

RMIT School of Health and Biomedical Sciences lactation consultant and lecturer Jennifer James said the health benefits of breastmilk over formula is part of the reason mum’s are seeking donations, reports ABC news.

“Infant formula provides nutrition and that is it; children will grow, but that is it,” Dr James said.

“They don’t develop their gut appropriately, which has implications for their immune system and lifelong health.

“Women increasingly know that, and if they can’t breastfeed themselves, then the next best option is the breastmilk of another woman.”

In Australia it is illegal to buy and sell body parts, including breastmilk, so the online communities do not offer prices on milk exchange.

The risks

Health authorities warn that infectious diseases can be transmitted through breastmilk, and parents should be cautious in accepting milk from strangers.

Dr James said she was unaware of any deaths or adverse outcomes from sharing milk.

“It is far better that if women are going to share breastmilk, they share it with people they know, but sometimes that is just not possible,” she said.

“Women who belong to the online communities of milk-sharers have milk in their freezer, and there is way too much for their own baby and they offer it to someone in the online community.”

According to Dr James, the main safety risk involved in sharing milk was the possibility of contamination during transportation, reports ABC.

“Historically, women shared their breastmilk all the time,” Dr James said.

Share your comments below.

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  • Great idea for those who need it and would use it. Not sure I would want to use it tho, I’ld probably just switch to bottle if I couldn’t breast feed myself

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  • This is a great idea. When I first did mid years ago pooled EBM [ expressed breast milk] was very popular. it helped a lot of babies. It lost favour later on when AIDS reared it’s ugly head.

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  • I wouldn’t be happy feeding my own baby another woman’s breast milk but I’d be more than happy to donate if my supply allowed it.

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  • My daughter who was prem had Donor milk. This was recommended by her pediatrician in the hospital in the UK. Donor milk is a common practice in the UK and you can get it at Milk Donor Banks. As I was using medication at that time I was not able to breastfeed my daughter myself and was very happy she could get some Donor milk as every bit of breast milk helps for the gut lining.

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  • I wouldn’t do it unless the milk was tested

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  • Is there a way of testing breastmilk for illness, diseases etc??? Surely there must be a way. Quite a few years ago the sister of the lady I worked for have a baby who was very premature – over a month. She was expressing milk and taking it to the hospital every day + during the day while she was there. She was actually disposing of some. She spoke to the nurses at the hospital about it. The nurses spoke to one of the Doctors who discussed the situations with some others. They then approached her and asked would she like to donate breastmilk for babies whose Mums were unable to express enough for their own babies if it was deemed suitable. When the Ok was given they supplid her with some special bottles to put it in.

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  • The health risk would put me off this idea.

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  • I’m not sure I would accept breast milk from strangers. But it would be very different if the woman was someone I know very well and I trust.

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  • This is both good and bad. It’s resourceful and can help other mums, but the diseases component is a worry nowadays. We are not in medieval times anymore (and there is no evidence that it was also not dangerous then) and should be cautious.

    Reply

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