A child components scarcity has prompted a “major surge in interest” in donor breast milk, based on Lindsey Groff, the chief director of the Human Milk Bank Association of North America, which accredits nonprofit milk banks.
With the components scarcity worsening in current weeks, “every milk bank that I have spoken with has seen a major increase in demand,” Groff mentioned, including that untimely or medically fragile infants, equivalent to these within the neonatal intensive care unit, obtain precedence for donor milk however that wholesome, full-term infants might be recipients as properly.
At Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin in Texas, one of many largest milk banks within the United States, requests for donor milk began ticking up in February, when a product recall added to current provide chain woes.
The variety of requests has “increased tremendously” within the final three weeks, with 30 further calls every week to the milk financial institution, mentioned Kim Updegrove, the milk financial institution’s government director and the chairperson for the requirements committee on the Human Milk Bank Association of North America.
Like different dad and mom throughout the nation, these reaching out to Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin are annoyed by the naked cabinets they hold encountering at grocery shops. They both can’t discover components in any respect or their infants should not tolerating no matter components they’ve needed to swap to, Updegrove mentioned.
“Some are desperate. Some are angry. Some are sobbing,” she mentioned of oldsters who’re calling, some with only a day’s price of components left of their pantries.
“The challenge is not only to feed these infants, but to reinforce to parents that they are doing a great job,” she added. “There is no judgment here. They are reaching out. That’s part of problem-solving.”
Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank in Pittsburgh, in the meantime, has elevated its donations by 20 % within the final three weeks to satisfy demand, mentioned Denise O’Connor, its government director and a lactation advisor.
“I suspect this sustained demand is going to maintain,” she mentioned.
How donor milk is screened
Accredited milk banks rigorously display screen donors by way of a verbal questionnaire, written clearance from a doctor and a blood check. The milk they donate is examined and pasteurized to remove any pathogens.
Experts strongly advise towards receiving breast milk from unknown sources, equivalent to social media teams, the place few precautions, if any, are taken to make sure the protection and purity of the product. Sellers could dilute breast milk with water or cow’s milk; the milk may also be tainted with micro organism or different harmful contaminants that milk banks stringently monitor for.
“We aren’t aware of what medications someone might be on, or the lingering effects of antibiotics in their system,” mentioned Jenna Streit, development director for The Milk Bank in Indianapolis, which final yr obtained donations from 810 donors in 20 states. “We are really in touch with our donors after they’re approved. We make sure none of their medications have changed.”
Streit mentioned her group has obtained solely about one or two calls a day so removed from formula-feeding mothers inquiring about breast milk donations. Most had not heard of milk banks earlier than this, she mentioned, so a part of the dialog is educating them concerning the strategy of receiving milk. Donor milk at The Milk Bank prices $4.50 per ounce, which is corresponding to the nationwide common of $4 to $5 an oz. to cowl processing charges, based on Groff. It is usually lined by hospitals when infants are in neonatal intensive care models; insurance coverage will typically cowl the associated fee for outpatients when there’s a medical want.
In Valhalla, New York, the New York Milk Bank solely dispenses donor milk to these with a prescription. While calls from dad and mom who haven’t had luck discovering components have solely been trickling in, the New York Milk Bank has seen an explosion in ladies volunteering to donate their milk over the previous month because the components scarcity has made headlines, mentioned Linda Harelick, government director.
“Our phones are ringing off the hook,” she mentioned. “It’s a pretty rigorous screening process, and we have been approving milk donors at record numbers.”
Groff hopes that would be the silver lining to the components scarcity at different milk banks, too.
“Everyone is aware of donating blood and organs, even hair. But there is very little known about donating breast milk,” she mentioned. “What we hope is that people are becoming more aware of the ability to donate breast milk in this time of crisis.”