Wednesday, April 25, 2012

USDA says cow's milk doesn't transmit BSE, is it time to review HMBANA guidelines for human milk donation?

In the wake of the latest case of BSE to be found in a dairy cow, the USDA is rushing to reassure US residents of the safety cow's milk, citing WHO research that says bovine milk doesn't transmit BSE.

At a time when the donor human milk banks are pleading for donors citing shortage due to increased demand from NICUs for donor human milk, should there be an urgent review of human milk banking guidelines that exclude potential milk donors due to concerns about prion transmission? HMBANA says donors are not suitable if they have been "in the United Kingdom for more than 3 months or in Europe for more than 5 years since 1980." It's not clear on HMBANA's website, but that restriction is due to concern about prion disease transmission via human milk.

UK and EU moms can and do donate to their own milk banks -- they wouldn't have any donor human milk if this restriction were applied in their own countries. And yet we would reject their milk if they moved to the US or Canada.

I have heard donor milk bank representatives say the number is small and not a big contributor to their donor shortage, but we don't really have any idea how many potential donors are rejected, or don't even bother to apply to donate due to this restriction.

Why not lift it?

I don't think this guideline gives US and Canadian donors or recipients much confidence in HMBANA. I think it just makes milk banks look a little silly to savvy lactating moms who learn of the contradiction.

Worse, it contributes to the notion that human milk is dangerously disease-ridden.

USDA confirms 4th mad cow case in US

updated 4/24/2012 4:05:14 PM ET
The first new case of mad cow disease in the U.S. since 2006 has been discovered in a dairy cow in California, but health authorities said Tuesday the animal never was a threat to the nation's food supply.
    The infected cow, the fourth ever discovered in the U.S., was found as part of anAgriculture Department surveillance program that tests about 40,000 cows a year for the fatal brain disease.
    No meat from the cow was bound for the food supply, said John Clifford, the department's chief veterinary officer.
    "There is really no cause for alarm here with regard to this animal," Clifford told reporters at a hastily convened press conference.
    Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), is fatal to cows and can cause a fatal human brain disease in people who eat tainted beef. The World Health Organization has said that tests show that humans cannot be infected by drinking milk from BSE-infected animals.

    Tuesday, April 24, 2012

    HMBANA 2012 Conference April 23/24

    Human Milk News is live-tweeting the HMBANA 2012 conference from Las Vegas April 23/24. Follow #HMBANA2012 hashtag.
    Presentation handouts for the sessions are on the HMBANA conference website.

    Tuesday, April 17, 2012

    Alberta Primetime - Calgary Milk Bank - Interview, Jannette Festival

    The Calgary Mothers' Milk Bank is now operating. They currently have 35-40 donors but will need "about 10 times that amount." About 50,000 babies are born in Alberta each year and 8.7 per cent of them are pre-term births. The milk bank will mainly provide milk to premature babies and babies who "have a rough start." In addition to being life-saving at birth, there are larger spin-offs for the health care system as human milk provides life-long health benefits.

    The cost is still being worked out; so far donor milk is only available by prescription, and Festival says if families need milk and their health insurance won't pay for it, there will be a cost. Festival is asked by the interviewer if the cost should be publicly covered and says, "it's just as much a medicine as it is a food."

    This is the second human milk bank to open in Canada since milk banks were shut down in the 80s due to fear of AIDS. Festival says there will be more with Toronto expected to open within the next year or two.

    Donors are screened similar to the way blood donors are screened. Festival says they start with a questionnaire, blood tests for various diseases and a form that needs to be signed by a doctor to confirm mothers are healthy and are good candidates to donate.

    Festival talks about a very special group of donors, mothers whose babies have died. Festival says these women have been in the NICU and see how sick the babies there are, and understand how important human milk is to their survival. Their milk is still there even after the baby dies and the milk bank gives them an opportunity to put it to good use.

    Original Air Date: Thursday, April 12, 2012... interview with Jannette Festival, lactation consultant and the executive director of the Calgary Mothers' Milk Bank. 

    CPS publishes new policy in support of kangaroo care for preemies

    From the Pan American Health Organization's
    Gallery of photos, Kangaroo Care by Jane Dempster
    This is a critically important policy that should be examined and adopted by all NICUs in Canada. It will prevent death and illness in premature babies. Skin-to-skin and kangaroo care increases the amount of milk a mother is able to make - and express - for her baby. For preemie babies unable to latch - the availability of mother's own milk will reduce the volume of donor human milk needed which will allow that resource to stretch farther.

    Kangaroo care for the preterm infant and familyAnn L Jefferies; Canadian Paediatric Society, Fetus and Newborn CommitteePaediatr Child Health 2012;17(3):141-3
    "The benefits of breast milk for the preterm infant are well-known and include decreased incidence of infections and necrotizing enterocolitis, and improved growth and neurodevelopmental outcome. KC is associated with a longer duration of breastfeeding, higher volumes of milk expressed, higher exclusive breastfeeding rates and higher percentage of breastfeeding at the time that preterm infants are discharged from hospital (20,21)."

    Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    Calgary Mothers' Milk Bank officially open!

    The Calgary Mother's Milk Bank has announced its first batch of pasteurized donor milk. They are newest HMBANA bank to open, and the first to open in Canada in over 33 years! Congratulations to Jannette Festival and all the hardworking volunteers and supporters who have made this dream come true.

    (And isn't it a sign of the times that they chose a social media network to make their announcement!) 

    Thursday, April 05, 2012 won't let me be WHO Code compliant, so it's gone.

    I just deleted the for Human Milk News. won't let me keep ads out, & I won't have non-WHO Code complaint ads. I was just spending too much time policing and it's clear some people set up new spam Twitter accounts just to get around being blocked. So it's gone.