Thursday, January 19, 2012

Health Ministry welcomes Fatwa Committee on human milk bank | My Sinchew

Health Ministry welcomes Fatwa Committee on human milk bank | My Sinchew: Health Ministry welcomes Fatwa Committee on human milk bank
News 2012-01-18 17:20
PAPAR, Jan 18 (Bernama) -- The Health Ministry today welcomed the declaration by the Fatwa Committee of the National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs that it is "haram" (prohibited in Islam) to set up a human milk bank.

Deputy Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin said the ministry would also not encourage the setting up of such an institution.

"We have to know the woman who gives her milk to our children because there are elements on religion which have to be respected," she told reporters after presenting the living cost allowance to fishermen here today.

Rosnah, who is Papar Member of Parliament, said this in response to a media report last week on the decision by the national fatwa committee to a suggestion for the setting up of a human milk bank.

The committee is of the view that the creation of a human milk bank closely relates to the rules that would render it haram because when babies are breast-fed from one or more women they will become 'milk siblings' and marriage between the individuals is forbidden.

On today's function, Rosnah advised fishermen in the area to register with the Papar Fishermen Association to facilitate distribution of government aid to them.

A total of 502 fishermen received their monthly allowance of RM200 each at the function.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Human Milk News Facebook page taken down

If you are looking for the Human Milk News Facebook page... well, it's been taken down by Facebook. You can read all the gory details over here on my other blog, Jodine's World, but basically, Emma Kwasnica was again suspended from Facebook for having a breastfeeding photo up, I helped create a Facebook group to support her and my account was suspended for sharing the same photo - Human Milk News was also suspended. Another mom blogger's account was taken down just for sharing a message of support for Emma and breastfeeding women. Then this morning Facebook upped the ante and disabled my account and put Emma on a three day suspension and removed another of her breastfeeding photos.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Facebook harasses moms over breastfeeding photos

Over on Jodine's World I have a new blog post about my experience this morning - I woke up to find my Facebook account suspended over a photo of my friend Emma Kwasnica, breastfeeding her daughter.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Indiana Mother's Milk Bank opens 2nd milk bank collection depot in Kentucky

Indiana Mother's Milk Bank has opened a second out-of-state collection depot with a Lexington, Kentucky depot joining the one in Louisville. The Indiana Mother's Milk Bank also operates seven in-state collection depots at Bloomington, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Lafayatte, Michigan City, Muncie, an South Bend.
"Lexington organization, Mother Nurture, to house a human milk donation drop off site | Our Neighbors and Families: Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Lexington business Mother Nurture – a Breastfeeding Resource Center and Baby Boutique – will join forces with the Indiana Mothers’ Milk Bank to collect donor human milk at the first donation drop off location in Central Kentucky beginning Jan. 26. Carefully screened donors will deliver their human milk to Mother Nurture’s Milk Depot, where it will be frozen and stored until it is transported to the Indiana Mother’s Milk Bank, which provides pasteurized donor human milk to ill or premature infants throughout Indiana and the Midwest...."

Minnesota moms encouraged to supplement with donor milk and not infant formula

A Minnesota hospital's human donor milk program has been expanded to include all infants who need to be supplemented, up from only high risk infants, after additional funding was received. Of the moms who are told they need to supplement, 80 per cent are chosing donor milk, says the maternity care centre clinical director at Woodwinds Health Campus in Woodbury, Minnesota. That makes sense - Minnesota has an 80 per cent breastfeeding initiation rate. I wonder if this program will succeed in improving the duration of mothers exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months. If moms are seeing health care providers walk their talk by encouraging supplementation with human milk instead of infant formula right at birth, will it translate into better duration rates?
Moms choosing donor milk at Woodwinds | Woodbury Bulletin | Woodbury, Minnesota: ...Over the last four months, Woodwinds has been offering donor human milk to all newborns whose families choose to use it.

The program began about three years ago but was only available to at-risk infants who needed donor milk to grow, said Jeanette Schwartz, clinical director of maternity care center at Woodwinds.

After a donation was made to the HealthEast Foundation specifically for the donor milk program, it was made available to all families.

Then the use of it spiked.

“They really do want this, they want to try to avoid using artificial milk,” Schwartz said. “There are some risks to artificial formula and they just want to have this option available to them.”...

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Concern raised about C. sakazakii testing conflict of interest

Blogger Valerie McClain, who has spent years exploring the financial interests involved in the patenting of components of human milk, has also taken a look from time to time at the pathogen testing industry. Apparently it has only been in the last few years, according to McClain's research, that the food industry has figured out how to test for the sometimes lethal pathogen, E. sakazakii, now renamed Cronobacter sakazakii, in infant formula.

Presumably the industry was using the new test on suspect powdered infant formula samples when, according to Reuters, it reported it could not find the pathogen that killed a baby in Missouri and made two others ill recently in its products.

McClain notes from a liability perspective it is in the industry's interests financially to not be able to find the actual cause of the infant's death. She expresses concern about ties between the infant formula industry and the CDC in funding these kinds of testing methods and wonders if they are preventing true independent oversight of the infant formula industry.

Snapshot of Mead Johnson's stock performance over the last
three months as of the morning of Jan 4th.  Note how it paced the
S&P in December but dropped off after the news of the
Missouri baby's death. It's still off pace.*
Yesterday Businessweek reported US federal officials from the FDA and CDC issued a joint statement (Dec 30)  saying they could find no reason to recall infant formula based on testing. They were unable to find any evidence that contamination from Cronobacter sakazakii occurred during manufacturing or shipping. They wee able to determine that the bacteria that killed the Missouri baby was not related to an Illinois illness. Reports of illness in two other states couldn't be traced.  Edward Aaron, analyst with RBC Capital Markets, told Businessweek, "shares should bounce nicely on his news, but it could take some time for the stock to fully recover. Ultimately we see this as an opportunity to own the same great growth story at a cheaper valuation." Shares of Mead Johnson were up almost 4 per cent on the news.

From McClain's blog post:
"humanmilkpatentpending: Testing, testing, testing for Cronobacter sakazakii in powdered infant milks: Legally for the infant formula industry, not finding this pathogen in powdered infant formula this year is financially beneficial. No lawsuits because they can prove by tests (that industry created) that the organism no longer resides in powdered infant formula. It leaves this situation in a terrifying muddle because parents cannot know exactly how to protect their infant, other than breastfeeding. And we know from the various infant formula blogging mommies that that isn't going to happen anytime soon. I would feel more comfortable about this situation, if the tests that were developed had no one from the food industry involved. And I would feel more comfortable about this situation if the CDC was not getting its "projects" funded by the CDC Foundation that partners with most of the infant formula, food, and drug industry. Why aren't we more concerned about the kind of influence and funding going on that impacts our health care system."

Edited to add stock market visuals, above, 10:30 a.m., Jan 4. 

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Calgary Mothers' Milk Bank up on Facebook, receives charitable status

Calgary Mothers' Milk Bank has a new Facebook page, and has received its charitable status as of December 21, 2011, which means Canadian income tax receipts can be issued for all monetary donations. So head on over to the page, click "like" and see if you can rustle up a donation or two!

Huge Streak of Exhibitionism #nursingwild #targetBF

Can't resist this Heather Dushman-Dowdee cartoon today. Time to bring out the #nursingwild hashtag....

... Huge Streak of Exhibitionism  click for the full comic
"Huge Streak of Exhibitionism : Mama Is…Comic | Heather Cushman-Dowdee"

Yup, I'm going to make you to go Heather's site to see the full comic. Enjoy.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Families need milksharing guidance, not warnings

The European Milk Banking Association has issued a position on milksharing as of December, 2011, after its annual general meeting in Milan in November, 2011.  In essence, while they "understand and applaud the growing desire by parents and carers to provide breast milk instead of artificial (formula) milk … and fully support all efforts to help mothers to breastfeed their own babies..." they are convinced the only way to share breastmilk safely in Europe is through the network of 165 milk banks under the EMBA umbrella. They warn:
"The worldwide increasing support for and credibility of human milk banking and breastmilk sharing will be undermined in the event of adverse consequences derived from uncontrolled and informal utilisation of breastmilk and as a reaction the increased use of artificial milk could result. That is why EMBA strongly recommends that donor breastmilk should be obtained from human milk banks which follow quality guidelines for donor screening, breastmilk handling and processing." 
This fear of great harm to milk banking from an adverse consequence due to milksharing has long puzzled me. I have heard health professionals say human milk banking could be irretrievably harmed if donor human milk were found to be the cause of a single baby's death. "All it will take is for one baby to die..."

We don't see the formula firms running around saying, "just one death and the whole industry will collapse!"

Yet here in Canada the lack of donor human milk in NICUs over the last 25 years has resulted in an increased number of cases of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in premature babies - and a good number of those babies have died. INFACT Canada says 50 babies die each year in Canada from NEC. A study published in the US Journal of Pediatrics last year found the lives of 900 babies a year could be saved by breastfeeding.  Just last month the death of a newborn baby in Missouri was linked to powdered infant formula, along with several other cases of illness. After a baby died in Belgium in 2002 from bacteria in powdered infant formula, a number of other reports of contamination surfaced. And of course in the developing world there are thousands of deaths from infant formula.

The infant formula industry is secure in the knowledge that even with adverse effects, babies need to be fed and in the absence of human milk from a mother or from a donor, infant formula is the accepted option.

If a publicized case of adverse effects from milksharing causes even more families to turn to infant formula,  it will be a clear failure of our governing bodies, our health protection agencies, our medical professionals, and of our news media to adequately explain to the public the relative risk of feeding donated human milk vs the risk of feeding infant formula. Evidence shows human milk from a healthy donor is safer for human babies than infant formula.

Milksharing proponents believe parents can be trusted to make informed choices to ensure the health of their infants. Milk banks and government officials take a more classic public health approach - that individuals may not make the best decisions despite their best intentions and need guidance from authorities.

So far the guidance has been to say, "don't do it."

What is needed instead is public acknowledgement of various practices and identification of those that are safer, and those that are less safe. What is needed is guidance for families who want to share milk safely.

In this, public health authorities would be acting with the same level of care and diligence they apply to guidance for families using artificial human milk substitutes - infant formulas. Officials provide guidance on how to safely prepare infant formula and issue warnings about the risks of unsafe practices (although those warnings are usually quite tempered - you rarely hear authorities explaining infant formula preparation techniques and ending with, "do it this way or your baby could die...") We know some families will not follow those instructions, through ignorance or desperation they will feed improperly prepared unsterile products to immune-compromised infants. (All infants are born immune-compromised - the human immune system doesn't fully mature until much later in childhood.)

Is the solution to tell families "don't use infant formula, you might get it wrong, you might inadvertently harm your baby, and that will be a horrible outcome – that could put the entire infant formula industry in jeopardy...?"

Of course not. The solution is to educate, support and inform parents and families about the relative risks of various feeding choices using the best evidence and knowledge available today. It is up to to health authorities to tell parents that even if a baby dies, and the death is linked to milksharing, the use of human milk from a healthy donor is still safer than infant formula.

This article is by Jodine Chase, who is a public relations consultant and news analyst. Jodine is a long-time breastfeeding advocate who, as a volunteer, has worked for years to reestablish human milk banks in Canada. She volunteered some of her time earlier this year to Human Milk 4 Human Babies.