Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Miracle Milk Mother's Day Stroll - get on board now!

Check out the Stroll website here.
The Best for Babes Foundation is once again showing leadership with the launch the first annual Miracle Milk(TM) Mother's Day Stroll.

With its blunt, "human milk saves lives" messaging and fearless reminder that 500 babies die each year of Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC), BfB is kickstarting awareness and donations of funds - and milk! -  for HMBANA's network of US and Canadian non-profit milk banks. The stroll also supports the fledgling NEC Society, ROSE, a group working to empower African American women to embrace breastfeeding as a cultural and societal norm, and USLCA, whose important work helps ensure breastfeeding support from trained professionals is there for moms who need it.

There are dozens of sites popping up all over Canada and the US - want to get involved? Take a look at the Coordinator’s Responsibilites then contact @ kelly@bestforbabes.org to volunteer to run a US Stroll, or me, jchase@mediaworkswest.com if you want to organize a Stroll in Canada.

I love this event - here's why:
  • It raises the need for donor human milk where it should be, alongside national events like Run for the Cure.
  • Best for Babes Foundation is a leader in the formation of ethical partnerships - only their CARE-WHO Business Alliance members, who agree to uphold a code supporting mothers, and to meet their responsibilities under the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, can participate in Best for Babes projects, events, and programs. PJ's comfort breast pump maker Limerick and MotherLove Herbal company are on board as major event sponsors.
  • Order a t-shirt !

  • There are cute t-shirts! And lots of ways to participate - if there's no Stroll in your community, you can still donate funds or donate milk!

I'm lined up as the Canadian site coordinator, and I invite you to get on board and support this important cause. Registration is by donation - sign up now!

- Jodine

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Guest Post: Unlatched on NJ's proposed anti-milksharing campaign

This guest post from Unlatched's Rachelle Lesteshen questions a proposed campaign in New Jersey to warn parents against the "dangers of casual milksharing." There is a companion bill to license milk banks. It appears Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, who sponsored both bills, did not consult milksharing families in her state, or any milksharing advocates in the US or elsewhere. It appears she also did not reach out to HMBANA for expert advice on drafting her bill to regulate milk banks. Lampitt's heart is in the right place - she wants to protect babies - but will these bills do more harm than good? Have a read, and head on over to the Unlatched blog to comment.

New Jersey’s Proposed Anti-Milksharing Campaign—the Next Attack on Parental Informed Choice?

Posted on by A proposed bill (NJ A3702) in New Jersey has its sights on the informal milksharing community.  This bill:
“Establishes public awareness campaign advising pregnant women, new parents, and women who are breast feeding about dangers of casual milk sharing.”
After I read this bill, I immediately flashed back to Milwaukee’s infamous anti-bedsharing campaign from 2011.  Will New Jersey begin posting ads similar to these about milksharing?The above ads were Milwaukee’s attempt to reduce their infant mortality rate.  However, campaigns like these go against what is biologically normal and ignore research and evidence.  Bedsharing can be done safely, but the Milwaukee Health Department chose to just create a blanket campaign to admonish the practice all together.
This New Jersey milksharing bill is essentially another scaremongering tactic.  Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, who sponsored this bill, says this is about healthy babies, but the only thing a bill like this will do is push parents and caregivers away from seeking out donor milk, which has been shown time and time again to be beneficial for children.  She even failed to consult with the milksharing community and researchers.
New Jersey plans to discuss only the dangers of milksharing while providing no other information to parents and caregivers.  In Dr. Karleen D. Gribble’s 2012 paper, “Milk sharing and formula feeding: Infant feeding risks in comparative perspective?”,  she discusses issues with campaigns like this:
“There are risks associated with all forms of infant feeding, including breastfeeding and the use of manufactured infant formulas. However, health authorities do not warn against using formula or breastfeeding; they provide guidance on how to manage risk.”
So, why is New Jersey focusing only on informal milksharing risks?  Despite evidence pointing to how beneficial breastmilk is, their state officials are ignoring the research and outright trying to condemn the practice of milksharing based mostly on cultural beliefs that sharing breastmilk is dangerous and must be controlled.  This proposed campaign is patronizing to parents.  It assumes that caregivers are not capable of ensuring the safety of their children.  Humans have practiced milksharing in various forms (like wetnursing) for thousands of years and this practice is not stopping anytime soon.  Parents do not seek out donor breastmilk indiscriminately.  The milksharing community operates on the basis of informed choice where parents are educated on all risks and benefits of using donor milk.  The communities advise that donors and recipients operate under full disclosure.  Donors and recipients routinely screen each other to ensure they are a good match.  This includes getting medical histories, communication about lifestyle and habits, and disclosing any medication the donor may be using.  Donors also want to learn about the recipient family and what their needs are.  Oftentimes, these connections are very strong and develop into long lasting friendships.Gribble offers an excellent conclusion in her paper from 2011, “Milk sharing: from private practice to public pursuit” that helps summarize the concerns with bill NJ A3702:“Mothers are leading in this initiative. The public health community has a choice: stay on the side-lines or move to engage, to assist those who are involved in milk sharing to make it as safe as possible. We appeal for engagement in the belief that milk sharing will happen regardless of denunciations; that its level of risk is manageable; and that there are greater intractable risks for babies who do not receive breast milk. We believe that if undertaken, managed and evaluated appropriately, this made-by-mothers model shows considerable potential for expanding the world’s supply of human milk and improving the health of children.”
New Jersey Assemblywoman Lampitt, please reevaluate the objectives in this bill.  Do you truly believe that the scare tactics outlined will keep babies safe?  Can you see that this would create a barrier that ultimately keeps children from receiving species specific food that is optimal for their development?  Please do not let this proposed campaign be the next Milwaukee anti-cosleeping crusade.1475915_637640712948641_971439893_nWant to help the New Jersey milksharing community say “no” to this bill?  Sign the petition here:Support NJ milksharing families: Stop Bill A3702Stay up to date by following along on Facebook:Friends of New Jersey MilksharingTo better understand how milksharing is done safely, please check out the two biggest milksharing communities:
Human Milk for Human Babies (HM4HB) FAQ section:http://hm4hb.net/faq/and
Eats on Feets: Four Pillars of Safe Breast Milk Sharing: http://eatsonfeets.org/#fourPillars

To comment, head on over to Rachelle Lesteshen's Unlatched blog.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Japan gets human milk bank

Japan's Showa University School of Medicine has launched the country's first milk bank and plans to create a non-profit organization to launch more milk banks across the country over the next five years. According to Dr. Shoo Lee of the Canadian Neonatal Network, Japan has been successful in reducing its NEC rate to 0.5 per cent due to the use of exclusive human milk in the NICU. (See Human Milk News, Sept 2012: Canada looks to Japan's low NEC rate and use of only human milk in the NICU
Showa University creates Japan's 1st breast milk bank - Nov 30, 2013 - Asahi Shimbun 
The university's Department of Pediatrics plans to turn the milk bank into a nonprofit organization and popularize the service in Japan within the next five years.
Babies with low birth weights often have immune systems that are not fully functional, and breast milk is effective at preventing the risk of various diseases.
The proportion of undersized infants is rising in Japan, due to causes such as older mothers giving birth and the use of fertility treatments.
The milk bank got its start after receiving the approval of the university's ethics committee.
Tokyo's Showa University School of Medicine has developed Japan's first milk bank to make breast milk available to mothers who cannot produce their own due to illness or premature birth.... (full story.)

Of note, look at the lovely photo Asahi Shimbun used to illustrate this article.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bovine colostrum marketers - modern 'snake oil' salesmen?

The term "snake oil salesman" has become so ubiquitous, most of us don't really even think about how it came about. We're a long way from the days when travelling hucksters crossed the continent peddling secret formulas for dubious supplements designed to cure all that ailed us.
Travelling "snake oil" salesman.

Or are we?

The modern version of the snake oil salesman is alive and well and living on the Internet. Fronted by "non-profit" entities, these folks will sell you pills, recipes, cookbooks, lifestyle plans, all sorts of cures for what ails the modern man, woman, and child.

It's not illegal to push a lot of these products, and they often pose more of a hazard to your pocketbook than your  health. Caveat emptor. But some products can pose a hazard to human health.

Last week we had headlines warning families against the purchasing of human milk from anonymous sources via the Internet. "Moms beware..."  "Dangerous bacteria..." "Breast milk sold online may have harmful bacteria..." blared the headlines. (See my blog post "Something smells off and it's not the milk."

This week we have a helpful not-for-profit organization with the "vital health news" that donor breast milk is "contaminated." The CDC says so! (Not.) Oh no! But wait, there's more. Bovine colostrum to the rescue! You don't have to buy that dangerous, icky, filthy human milk. You can purchase quality cow colostrum for your baby!

Product sales website warning of "New CDC Research showing "contaminated" donor breast milk.
Our regulatory agencies have spent quite a bit of energy warning families of the dangers of feeding their babies human milk that is not obtained from milk banks.

These same bodies govern how infant formula is manufactured. In 81 countries around the world of there are outright laws preventing the marketing of products like this. In North America our health authorities have declined to ban the marketing of these products, but they have asserted their regulatory authority over the kinds of ingredients that can be included in breast milk substitutes, and they monitor the manufacturing of infant formula to try to keep dangerous pathogens from harming newborn infants.

The FDA was pretty quick to warn families about milksharing and the concerns about of the anonymous purchase of human milk when the practices first hit mainstream news. But it provided no guidelines to help families reduce their risk - they just said nope, don't do it, even though they don't actually regulate the donation or sale of human milk. (They considered it in 2010, and the study that generated the headlines above has called for the FDA to consider their research in any future discussions on regulation.)
Emma Kwasnica, founder of HM4HB,
wet-nursing her the child of a friend
hospitalized for a health emergency.
Peer-to-peer milksharing
networks drew warnings from
Health Canada, the FDA, and
France's health authority when they
became popular 3 years ago.

So, the question is, how fast will the FDA jump to warn consumers about the dangers of using this product as a substitute for mother's own milk? China has banned bovine colostrum as an ingredient in infant formula. Will the FDA move to bring this product into compliance with its rules?