Donating human milk is on the rise and there are tons of websites that deal in such milk bank trade.
Mothers who produces more than enough breast milk and whose toddlers have graduated to solid food donate it to be fed for fragile infants.
Some mothers even sell the excess milk and if taken note of Prolacta Bioscience CEO Scott Elsster $1 is paid for one ounce of the liquid gold, as many have termed it.
The company is based in City of Industry, California, and uses the milk to make fortifiers. Its products are expensive and for a one-day supply the cost may be somewhere between $200 and $300.
However, Prolacta Bioscience is praised by neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) physicians as its products replace fortifiers made of cow’s milk, which increases the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis and sepsis.
The big question now is whether safeguards are required to ensure the milk supply is safe. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says no testing of such donated milk is required, but some states like California and New York have enforced safety standards and donors are screened too.
FDA has rather expressed safety concern too urging mothers not to feed their infants with human milk that is collected from trading websites due to increased risk of contamination by disease or drugs.
In 2010 the FDA had paused voluntary screening practices and a neonatologist at UC-San Diego, Dr. Jae Hong Kim, said the safety measures implemented by the milk banks are not error-free.
Meanwhile, if taken a look to an interesting data the support for such milk bank will increase. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals hardly 20 percent of American infants were breast fed in the early 1970s and now the figure has rose to more than 80 percent. This means the health advantages have been well established for fragile and premature infants.
Some breast-feeding enthusiasts call it as milk magic and at times it seems everyone wants it, even high-tech pharmaceutical companies as human milk is used in premium medical products.
Each year new milk banks open up and it is still not known how much of human milk is either donated or sold. In 2016 about 4.4 million ounces of milk were distributed by Human Milk Banking Association of North America in the US and Canada. Five years ago the distribution quantity was less than half.
The nonprofit organization had 18 milk banks in 2014 and now there are more than 30.
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