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.
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.
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