Breast milk banks get surge in calls from parents amid baby formula shortage

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  one week ago  •  19 comments

By:   Elizabeth Chuck

Breast milk banks get surge in calls from parents amid baby formula shortage
A baby formula shortage has prompted a "major surge in interest" in donor breast milk, according to Lindsey Groff, the executive director of the Human Milk Bank.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



A baby formula shortage has prompted a "major surge in interest" in donor breast milk, according to Lindsey Groff, the executive director of the Human Milk Bank Association of North America, which accredits nonprofit milk banks.

With the formula shortage worsening in recent weeks, "every milk bank that I have spoken with has seen a major increase in demand," Groff said, adding that premature or medically fragile infants, such as those in the neonatal intensive care unit, receive priority for donor milk but that healthy, full-term babies can be recipients as well.

At Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin in Texas, one of the largest milk banks in the United States, requests for donor milk started ticking up in February, when a product recall added to existing supply chain woes.

The number of requests has "increased tremendously" in the last three weeks, with 30 extra calls each week to the milk bank, said Kim Updegrove, the milk bank's executive director and the chairperson for the standards committee at the Human Milk Bank Association of North America.

Massive baby formula shortage leaves many parents facing a crisis


Like other parents across the country, those reaching out to Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin are frustrated by the bare shelves they keep encountering at grocery stores. They either can't find formula at all or their infants are not tolerating whatever formula they have had to switch to, Updegrove said.

"Some are desperate. Some are angry. Some are sobbing," she said of parents who are calling, some with just a day's worth of formula left in 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, meanwhile, has increased its donations by 20 percent in the last three weeks to meet demand, said Denise O'Connor, its executive director and a lactation consultant.

"I suspect this sustained demand is going to maintain," she said.

How donor milk is screened


Accredited milk banks carefully screen donors through a verbal questionnaire, written clearance from a physician and a blood test. The milk they donate is tested and pasteurized to eliminate any pathogens.

Experts strongly advise against receiving breast milk from unknown sources, such as social media groups, where few precautions, if any, are taken to ensure the safety and purity of the product. Sellers may dilute breast milk with water or cow's milk; the milk can also be tainted with bacteria or other dangerous 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," said Jenna Streit, advancement director for The Milk Bank in Indianapolis, which last year received 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 said her organization has received only about one or two calls a day so far from formula-feeding moms inquiring about breast milk donations. Most had not heard of milk banks before this, she said, so part of the conversation is educating them about the process of receiving milk. Donor milk at The Milk Bank costs $4.50 per ounce, which is comparable to the national average of $4 to $5 an ounce to cover processing fees, according to Groff. It is often covered by hospitals when babies are in neonatal intensive care units; insurance will sometimes cover the cost for outpatients when there is a medical need.

In Valhalla, New York, the New York Milk Bank only dispenses donor milk to those with a prescription. While calls from parents who have not had luck finding formula have only been trickling in, the New York Milk Bank has seen an explosion in women volunteering to donate their milk over the past month as the formula shortage has made headlines, said Linda Harelick, executive director.

"Our phones are ringing off the hook," she said. "It's a pretty rigorous screening process, and we have been approving milk donors at record numbers."

Groff hopes that will be the silver lining to the formula shortage at other milk banks, too.

"Everyone is aware of donating blood and organs, even hair. But there is very little known about donating breast milk," she said. "What we hope is that people are becoming more aware of the ability to donate breast milk in this time of crisis."


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squiggy
Sophomore Quiet
1  squiggy    one week ago

"...to the national average of $4 to $5 an ounce..."

Youch. I didn't understand the dilution motivation til I saw that.

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
2  Hallux    one week ago

A couple of points ...

If you live close to the Canadian border cross over and shop, we have multiple brands that are just as good or better.

In the not too distant future:

Lab-grown human breast milk may be on store shelves in a few years

 
 
 
Snuffy
Senior Guide
2.1  Snuffy  replied to  Hallux @2    one week ago
If you live close to the Canadian border cross over and shop, we have multiple brands that are just as good or better.

I don't have young children in order to test this out but a friend yesterday said that you can order from Amazon.  Go to the bottom of the page and change your country to Canada and you can buy formula there and have it shipped to a USA address.  Interesting if true...

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
2.1.1  Hallux  replied to  Snuffy @2.1    one week ago

Does Amazon Canada Ship to the US? (All You Need to Know)

It seems the answer is yes, but there will be import fees.

 
 
 
squiggy
Sophomore Quiet
2.1.2  squiggy  replied to  Hallux @2.1.1    one week ago

I just tried that. I have no skin in this so I had to pick an Enfamil Gentlease for comparison. One version of it is unavailable in US, (.com) yet shippable to me from Canada, (.CA) to US at maybe ordinary $10 fee.

The haves are poised to clean the shelves.

 
 
 
Split Personality
Professor Principal
2.1.3  Split Personality  replied to  squiggy @2.1.2    one week ago

The haves have been hoarding since the COVID thing started.

Part of the NAFTA rewrite under the previous Administration featured protectionism

for the US manufacturers which discouraged Canadian imports.

Tariffs were more specific to the EU which has higher formula standards

but no FDA approvals.

Decent article.

What’s Behind America’s Shocking Baby-Formula Shortage? - The Atlantic

 
 
 
cjcold
Professor Quiet
2.2  cjcold  replied to  Hallux @2    one week ago

So whatever happened to good old fashioned breast feeding?

It was good enough for me although I do have a bit of a breast fixation to this day.

 
 
 
squiggy
Sophomore Quiet
2.2.1  squiggy  replied to  cjcold @2.2    one week ago

 
 
 
Snuffy
Senior Guide
2.2.2  Snuffy  replied to  squiggy @2.2.1    one week ago

Maybe they should just take Bette Midler's advice and if they cannot find baby formula just breast feed.

jrSmiley_78_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Split Personality
Professor Principal
2.2.3  Split Personality  replied to  squiggy @2.2.1    one week ago

Nice opinion article...

So, since "formula" wasn't invented until 1865, how the hell did humanity survive and develop for hundreds of thousands of years?

Mothers milk, animal milks and midwives.

At one point in time before the knowledge about bacteria, baby "bottles" killed off significant number of children.

American advancements in Baby bottle technology between 1920 and 1950

was a boon to the formula industry which has most Americans and Europeans

convinced that we cannot raise children without artificial supplements.

As recently as 2015 China became the world's largest formula market as most women

have jobs and cannot breastfeed.

It's one hell of a convenience for the mothers and fathers,

nothing more unless you believe like many that formulas increase allergic reactions

that plague many people originally nurtured on artificial milks.

 

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
2.2.4  Hallux  replied to  Split Personality @2.2.3    one week ago

The peanut snack that triggered a fresh approach to allergy prevention

 
 
 
squiggy
Sophomore Quiet
2.2.5  squiggy  replied to  Split Personality @2.2.3    one week ago

"When I observe parents stigmatized for using formula, mom-shaming on social media or just a generalized misconception that formula is the enemy of breastfeeding, I see these as the biggest obstacles to helping parents meet breastfeeding goals and optimize infant health."

Just grab that pediatrician by the bra and shake some sense into her - " it's tittes of the highway, sister."

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
2.2.6  sandy-2021492  replied to  cjcold @2.2    one week ago
So whatever happened to good old fashioned breast feeding?

Lack of support for breastfeeding - most women in the US don't have that much maternity leave, and may or may not be able to pump at work.  And a breast pump doesn't keep production up as well as a nursing baby.

Women are still stigmatized for breastfeeding in public.  There are always a few dumbasses who will equate it to defecating in public.

Women are more likely now than a generation ago to be on medications that are excreted in breast milk, and may affect their babies.

And once that decision is made, for whatever reason, you're stuck with it.  Milk production drops off rapidly, and once it's done, it's done.

And of course, breastfeeding won't work in adoption cases.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
2.2.7  Ender  replied to  sandy-2021492 @2.2.6    one week ago
Women are still stigmatized for breastfeeding in public.

I always wondered why that bothered people so much. Who cares. People are prudish about the weirdest things.

 
 
 
Split Personality
Professor Principal
2.3  Split Personality  replied to  Hallux @2    one week ago
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), two out of every three infants don’t receive the recommended amount of breast milk in their first six months. These low rates are thanks in part to the milk substitute industry, which often uses misleading marketing tactics to persuade parents to use formula milk. The WHO maintains that “breastmilk is the ideal food for infants” so that children can develop with the necessary nutrition and antibodies needed to grow healthy and strong. Studies show that children who are breastfed perform better on intelligence tests and are at lower risk for diabetes and obesity.

Simply put, the greed of capitalism.

 
 
 
squiggy
Sophomore Quiet
2.3.1  squiggy  replied to  Split Personality @2.3    one week ago

Breastmilk is the best but you’ve ignored all the reasons it may be inadequate in any unique circumstance. 
What is considered corporate greed? The price of modern medicine? Greedy hospitals? They all came about because of a need.

 
 
 
Split Personality
Professor Principal
2.3.2  Split Personality  replied to  squiggy @2.3.1    one week ago
but you’ve ignored all the reasons it may be inadequate in any unique circumstance. 

BS. How many people need instant infant formula for it to be a "unique circumstance"?

What is considered corporate greed?

Marketing like Phillip Morris and the tobacco industry sold us for decades. 

Beer, Booze, Too many examples to list.

The price of modern medicine? Greedy hospitals? They all came about because of a need.

In Australia, Canada and the UK prices are reasonable, insurance works. 

They have the same needs that we do.

Here in CONUS its an insurance game for those who can afford to pay and play.

 
 
 
squiggy
Sophomore Quiet
2.3.3  squiggy  replied to  Split Personality @2.3.2    one week ago

Yea, it’s all a vast conspiracy. Next thing ya know the government will be shipping all the available formula to the border.

 
 
 
Split Personality
Professor Principal
2.3.4  Split Personality  replied to  squiggy @2.3.3    one week ago

Thanks for nothing squiggy, ssdd.

 
 

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