Tuesday, August 12, 2014

ILCA embraces milksharing in new emergency feeding guidelines

I'm delighted to see the International Lactation Consultant Association's new position paper on Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies includes a recommendation to explore milksharing or local donations of expressed milk as an option to feed infants during an emergency. The same recommendation reiterates what experts have been saying since Haiti -  international donations of expressed breast milk are not appropriate. 

"... Consider donations of expressed milk or milk sharing from a local source in limited circumstances, such as in an evacuation center where refrigeration is available or where a wet nurse is available but feeding expressed milk is more culturally acceptable. Breast pumps should not be used unless unlimited hot water is available. International donations of expressed breast milk in emergencies are not appropriate; past experience of such donations has been that they detract from the provision of aid. ..."
The position paper was authored by Cathy Carothers, the former President and Marketing Director of ILCA and Media and Public Relations Chair for the USBC, and Dr. Karleen Gribble, Adjunct Research Fellow at the University of Western Sydney, and expert in infant feeding in emergencies. (See Natural disasters - are we doing enough to protect infants, Human Milk News, 2011)

I had the pleasure of hearing Carothers speak about the role of donor human milk in a post-emergency setting at the HMBANA Conference in 2012. It was the Human Milk News live-tweets from that session that prompted Karleen Gribble to activate a Twitter account to participate in the online discussion, and it's exciting and gratifying to see these two experts collaborating on this new policy. ILCA's new position paper has 12 general recommendations/strategies and 10 specific recommendations for IBCLCs including an important call to educate media outlets to broadcast messaging supporting appropriate infant and young child feeding in the lead-up to and during an emergency.

FREE access to the Journal of Human Lactation
You can read the entire position paper in the Journal of Human Lactation - brought to you for free free for the month of August as part of ILCA's celebration of World Breastfeeding Week.

Want to learn more? ILCA calls on IBCLCs to contact a local emergency organization to sign up for training in emergency preparedness, and to undertake specialized training in infant feeding in emergencies. The Infant Feeding in Emergencies Core Group website provides tools and policy guidance. You can access this hour-long free expert lecture by Gribble at Health E-Learning. UNICEF has a full set of training modules on Nutrition in Emergencies with a separate module on Infant Feeding in Emergencies. he handout from the 2012 HMBANA conference address by Carothers is still up on the HMBANA website, and you can also access this ILCA handout to be distributed to health professionals, Facts about Breastfeeding in an Emergency by Carothers and Kendall Cox. The Louisiana Breastfeeding Coalition also has a helpful collection of links and Kellymom.com has a comprehensive list of resources.

Note: I am a member of the ILCA Medialert Team. My views are mine alone and do not represent ILCA.