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?