Got Milk? Sharing Human Milk Via the Internet

Center for Breastfeeding Medicine, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA.
Public Health Reports (Impact Factor: 1.55). 03/2011; 126(2):161-4. DOI: 10.2307/41639341
Source: PubMed
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Available from: Kathleen M Rasmussen
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    • "While there are a multitude of reasons that people share breastfeeding and human milk, a majority of parents seeking shared milk online in the U.S. are breastfeeding mothers who have initiated breastfeeding and have experienced lactation insufficiency (Palmquist & Doehler 2014). Controversies surrounding milk sharing emanate from concerns about the potential risks involved in feeding an infant with human milk donated by individuals who are not systematically screened by a trained health professional (Geraghty et al. 2011; Gribble & Hausman 2012; Nelson 2012; Brent 2013; Jones 2013; Landers & Hartmann 2013; Keim et al. 2014a,b). These risks include transmission of disease, exposure to medications and substances, and microbial contamination associated with storage and handling practices (Golding 1997; U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2010; Walker & Armstrong 2012; Brent 2013; Landers & Hartmann 2013; Martino & Spatz 2014). "
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    ABSTRACT: The primary objective of this study is to describe human milk sharing practices in the U.S. Specifically, we examine milk sharing social networks, donor compensation, the prevalence of anonymous milk sharing interactions, recipients' concerns about specific milk sharing risks, and lay screening behaviors. Data on human milk sharing practices were collected via an online survey September 2013-March 2014. Chi-square analyses were used to test the association between risk perception and screening practices. A total of 867 (661 donors, 206 recipients) respondents were included in the analyses. Most (96.1%) reported sharing milk face-to-face. Only 10% of respondents reported giving or receiving milk through a non-profit human milk bank, respectively. There were no reports of anonymous purchases of human milk. A small proportion of recipients (4.0%) reported that their infant had a serious medical condition. Screening of prospective donors was common (90.7%) but varied with social relationship and familiarity. Likewise, concern about specific milk sharing risks was varied, and risk perception was significantly associated (P-values = 0.01 or less) with donor screening for all risk variables except diet. Understanding lay perceptions of milk sharing risk and risk reduction strategies that parents are using is an essential first step in developing public health interventions and clinical practices that promote infant safety.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Maternal and Child Nutrition
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    • "In the current medical-scientific discourse 'breast is best' but only if the breast belongs to the infant's biological mother or the milk is obtained through a formal milk bank. Until 2013, opposition to milk sharing facilitated via internet was expressed mainly in informal medical commentary and news articles (Bond, 2008; Geraghty, Heier, & Rasmussen, 2011; Nelson, 2012; Vogel, 2011). The article published in Pediatrics provided scientific evidence to support opposition (Keim et al., 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: The exchange of human breast milk, a common and well-established practice, has become a site of public controversy in the US. There is controversy over the use of the internet to facilitate milk exchange and public interest in the practice has been stimulated by a research article published in the journal Pediatrics that identified high levels of potentially harmful bacteria in breast milk sold online. In this article we use feminist critical discourse analysis to critically examine how breast milk sharing is represented in a sample of 30 articles from US print newspapers published in 2010–2013. We found complex and contradictory images of human milk, with medically supervised milk banks represented as a life-saving entity, nature’s ‘liquid gold’, whereas peer sharing of breast milk was represented as dangerous, and in this context breast milk was represented as a potentially life-threatening substance. Women who donated milk to milk banks were represented as altruistic and those who obtained their babies’ milk from the milk bank were represented as responsible and acting in the best interests of their babies. In contrast women who participated in peer milk sharing were represented at best as ill-informed about the risks to babies and at worst, morally reprehensible for disregarding the risks. Mothers who fed their babies this milk were represented as irresponsible and playing ‘Russian roulette’ with their babies. We argue that such contradictory representations are grounded in concerns in high income countries such as the USA with the control and surveillance of the female body through discourses of risk and are based on cultural constructions of individualism and intensive mothering.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · Health Risk & Society
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