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Update on Haiti and Breastmilk Donations

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An update to the question of whether or not to donate breast milk to help victims of the Haiti earthquake…
Last month, Unicef and the World Health Organization discouraged donations of formula. Then several groups, including La Leche League (LLL) and the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) issued an urgent call for breast milk donations. The International Breast Milk Project delivered 500 ounces of milk to the USS Constitution to treat infants on board the ship.
But then there was a backlash. There was a report from MSNBC that the milk on the ship was not being used. Furthermore, TIME magazine reported the WHO and Unicef are discouraging breast milk donations because the mainland of Haiti doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to use it.
So where does that leave things? The International Breast Milk Project is not planning another shipment. And the HMBANA and LLL are now saying that breast milk donations are not recommended:
Donor milk, however, is not a solution for the large number of infants and young children affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Members of the public who wish to promote the survival of mothers and babies in Haiti can donate money to the following organizations: UNICEF , Save the Children Alliance, World Vision, and Action Against Hunger. These organizations are using best practice to aid both breastfed and non-breastfed infants. Members of the public can be confident that donations to these organizations will support breastfeeding and help save the lives of babies.
If you want to read more on this subject, visit the Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog or Breastfeeding 123.

Breast Milk Donors Needed For Haiti

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Update February 16th: Donated milk not recommended for Haiti. See my post here.
Here’s a press release from several breastfeeding organizations:
URGENT CALL FOR HUMAN MILK DONATIONS FOR HAITI INFANTS
The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC), International Lactation Consultant Association/United States Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA/USLCA), and La Leche League International (LLLI) are jointly issuing an urgent call for human milk donations for premature infants in Haiti, as well as sick and premature infants in the United States.
This week the first shipment of human milk from mothers in the United States will be shipped to the U.S. Navy Ship “Comfort” stationed outside Haiti. “Comfort” is currently set up with a neonatal intensive care unit and medical personnel to provide urgent care to victims of the earthquake. An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant stationed at the U.S. Navy base in Bethesda, MD is assisting with providing breast pump equipment and supplies to the “Comfort.” Dr. Erika Beard-Irvine, pediatric neonatologist, is on board the “Comfort” to coordinate distribution of the milk to infants in need. HMBANA, USBC, ILCA/USLCA, and LLL are responding to requests to provide milk for both premature infants and at-risk mothers who have recently delivered babies on board the U.S.N.S. Comfort, but an urgent need exists for additional donations.
At the current time, the infrastructure to deliver human milk on land to Haiti infants has not yet been established. As soon as that infrastructure is in place, additional donations will be provided to older infants.
Mothers who are willing to donate human milk should contact their regional Mothers’ Milk Bank of HMBANA. A list of regional milk banks is available at the HMBANA website at www.hmbana.org.
Currently milk banks are already low on donor milk. New milk donations will be used for both Haiti victims as well as to replenish donor supplies to continue to serve sick and premature infants in the U.S. Donor milk provides unique protection for fragile preterm infants. Financial donations are also strongly encouraged to allow HMBANA, a nonprofit organization, to continue serving infants in need.
UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the Emergency Nutrition Network, and medical professionals all recommend that breastfeeding and human milk be used for infants in disasters or emergencies. Human milk is life-saving due to its disease prevention properties. It is safe, clean, and does not depend on water which is often unavailable or contaminated in an emergency. Relief workers, health care providers, and other volunteers are urged to provide support for breastfeeding mothers to enable them to continue breastfeeding, and to assist pregnant and postpartum women in initiating and sustaining breastfeeding.
For more information, contact HMBANA at 408-998-4550 or www.hmbana.org . Additional information can be provided from the United States Breastfeeding Committee at 202-367-1132 (www.usbreastfeeding.org), ILCA/USLCA at 1-800-452-2478 (www.ilca.org or www.uslca.org ), or La Leche League at 847-519-7730 (www.llli.org).

Breast Milk Contains Stem Cells

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Ok, so I’m a little behind the times. This story is from 2008. But a friend just brought it to my attention… An Australian has scientist discovered that breast milk contains stem cells. Here’s a bit from the story in Science Alert:

“We already know how breast milk provides for the baby’s nutritional needs, but we are only just beginning to understand that it probably performs many other functions,” says Dr Mark Cregan, a molecular biologist at The University of Western Australia.
He says that, in essence, a new mother’s mammary glands take over from the placenta to provide the development guidance to ensure a baby’s genetic destiny is fulfilled.
“It is setting the baby up for the perfect development,” he says. “We already know that babies who are breast fed have an IQ advantage and that there’s a raft of other health benefits. Researchers also believe that the protective effects of being breast fed continue well into adult life.
“The point is that many mothers see milks as identical – formula milk and breast milk look the same so they must be the same. But we know now that they are quite different and a lot of the effects of breast milk versus formula don’t become apparent for decades. Formula companies have focussed on matching breast milk’s nutritional qualities but formula can never provide the developmental guidance.”

New Study Says Breast Milk Flavor Might Affect What Babies Eat

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What you eat may affect what your breastfed baby likes to eat. That’s the finding of a new study from Denmark that found that food flavors show up in breast milk. Here’s a good summary of the story from ABC News, and a video courtesy of New England Cable News.