Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Benefits of Breast Milk? -First Responder

Until recently, I had never given a second thought to the difference between using formula and breast milk. I have always thought that breast milk was better than formula, because of all the good things it passes between mom and baby, only some of which include: immune factors, growth agents, and beneficial bacteria. In class, we've already spoken about how beneficial good bacteria is, and how much it can help fight off bad bacteria.

Even after saying all of this, I am very, very hesitant to begin praising the sale of donor milk. Most of my concern comes from the lack of moderation and oversight that is currently used in the sale of breast milk. There is no way of contacting or removing a women for selling bad breast milk, and the harm that it could do to a baby could be potentially fatal. HIV, viruses, bad bacteria, toxins, and even drugs can be passed through milk to a baby. If a baby already is lacking a comprehensive immune system, giving them a dose of bad bacteria or a virus could kill them.

If the correct precautions were made, I would more than welcome the idea of donor breast milk, as it could help thousands of babies, like it already is in NICUs all across the United States. This would also be a wonderful program to help impoverished babies born in struggling parts around the world, like in some third-world nations.

The one thing I struggle with, though, is the idea that scientists studying breast milk and trying to prove something about it are ignoring the wonderful benefits it gives to newborns, and instead, they are focusing on the fact that it doesn't help protect babies against asthma. Should we be demonizing breast milk because it doesn't do something that would just be an added benefit? And if we decide to demonize breast milk, what would we replace it with? Currently, formulas cannot offer the same nutrients and benefits for newborns as breast milk, so they still fall behind there. If there is only one good resource available to feed newborns, why should we be trying to prove that it isn't good for them?

1 comment:

  1. I agree; the buying and selling of breast milk is a complex issue. Proper precautions over the sale of breast milk would also settle this feeling of unease that I have over the breast milk market.

    Maybe the United States government could do all the breast milk regulating. Actually, maybe not… I believe that there are three factors that are relevant to government regulation over the trade of breast milk.
    1.) The accessibility of breast milk
    2.) The recipient baby’s well-being
    3.) The public’s funds

    The most important factor is the baby’s well-being, but we still must consider the other two. The problem is that every option that we have drains one or more of the three factors. For instance, if the federal government was to begin regulating unpasteurized breast milk, this would strain the public’s funds, which could have been used elsewhere. Another financial drain would be the government funding the development of a better baby formula.

    If laws were passed that regulated the current providers’ breast milk, then prices for breast milk would go up and breast milk would be less accessible to financially-strained people. I searched for purchasable breast milk online and found that breast milk is fairly cheap. On the buying/selling site, “Only the Breast,” breast milk goes for around $1.50 per ounce. I assume that breast milk is this cheap because of low government regulations, allowing many mothers to sell their breast milk and avoid the costs of following regulations.

    These problems lead me to think that government regulation is not the best way to go about providing babies with purchasable breast milk. The breast milk for clinical use organizations seem like they do a good job screening their breast milk. Also, the “Only the Breast” website I visited highly recommended that parents ask for important information from the seller about the breast milk and told them to not buy any if the seller does not provide valid credentials from doctors. The system we have right now is very accessible and does not cost the public any money. With proper buyer education and awareness, I bet the breast milk market does not have to change all that much.