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Some More Information About Breast Milk, Diseases and Day Care Centers

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I've been reading the comments on this and other blogs along with on message boards and the Columbus Dispatch site and I thought it might be a good idea to make a post summarizing some of the issues at play with this whole City Kids Day Care fiasco.

Several people that are backing City Kids have cited that breast milk IS a body fluid and therefore is hazardous. They've cited the hazard to workers in handling it and the hazard to other children if they would accidentally ingest the wrong bottle. Setting aside the issue that no day care center should care for infants if they can't make sure that every child received the right bottle, let's dig into these issues a little bit.

From the Centers for Disease Control.

What can happen if someone else's breast milk is given to another child?
HIV and other serious infectious diseases can be transmitted through breast milk. However, the risk of infection from a single bottle of breast milk, even if the mother is HIV positive, is extremely small. For women who do not have HIV or other serious infectious diseases, there is little risk to the child who receives her breast milk.


Also from their diseases and infections page...

Are special precautions needed for handling breast milk?
No special precautions exist for handling expressed human milk, nor does the milk require special labeling. It is not considered a biohazard. The Universal Precautions to prevent the transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Hepatitis B virus, and other bloodborne pathogens do not apply to human milk.


One of my readers dug this up from the OSHA site and forwarded it to me. If the center doesn't want to go with what the CDC has to say, then the Occupational Safety and Health Administration statement should do...

Breast milk is not included in the standard's definition of "other potentially infectious materials". Therefore contact with breast milk does not constitute occupational exposure, as defined by the standard. This determination was based on the Centers for Disease Control's findings that human breast milk has not been implicated in the transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or the hepatitis B virus (HBV) to workers

From La Leche League International:

Labeling human milk as a bio hazardous material requiring separate refrigeration attaches an unjustified stigma of a potentially harmful substance in the minds of mothers and day care personnel. Such labeling and storage requirements may also place a financial hardship on day care centers in having to provide a separate, dedicated refrigerator. One positive aspect of separate refrigeration for human milk is that it is less likely to be contaminated from questionable substances in the common refrigerator.

Now, keeping in mind that it's been shown time and time again that...

A.) A center that can't make sure a child gets the right bottle probably shouldn't be operating
and
B.) Even if a child would get a bottle of someone else's breast milk, the risk of ANY disease transmission is microscopic

Let's consider a few other things...

Whether breast fed or formula fed, ALL children poop many of them drool and few of them have learned how to sneeze without getting germs on the surface of toys, tables, etc.. (Let's also note that one of the code violations that City Kids was cited for late last year was for a worker that was observed changing a diaper and then handing a child a toy without having first washed their hands.)

With that in mind, let's take a look at what CAN be spread through things OTHER than breast milk. (The following is taken from the CDC handbook "What to Do to Stop Disease in Child Day Care Centers" which is now out of print.) NOTE: These lists don't even include the things that are commonly vaccinated for like chicken pox, bacterial meningitis and pertussis.

Spread through direct contact with infected person's skin or body fluid

Cold Sores, Conjunctivitis (pink eye), Head Lice, Impetigo, Ringworm and Scabies.

Spread through respiratory transmission
the common cold, diphtheria, fifth disease, hand-foot-mouth disease, Impetigo, Influenza, Pneumonia

Spread through fecal to oral transmission
campylobacter, E. Coli O157, enterovirus, giardia, hand-foot-mouth disease, Hepatitis A, Pinworms, Salmonella, Shigella

I won't even touch the ones that can be transmitted by blood because I would hope that any day care center worth it's salt would find it VERY rare for two children's blood to get intermixed. I've included the three categories above because we know that even the BEST day care centers may occasionally deal with fecal issues and all of them deal with the touch and respiratory issues.

Now, I'm wondering...since the day care center claims to be charging this fee and taking all these extreme precautions to "protect" children from that dangerous, bio hazardous breast milk... Are they also charging fees to the parents of children who poop while there? Maybe a "poopy diaper" surcharge at the end of each day? How about the ones that haven't learned to cover their mouth with a tissue when they sneeze? Or who might drool on a toy. Are they charged per sneeze?

Sorry, I'm just not buying it. Not even slightly.

Labels:

  1. Anonymous Rattling the Kettle | 3:57 PM |  

    This is just laughable. Someone should point out to these dolts that breastmilk actually has anti-microbial properties. If your kid gets a nasty cut, you'd be well off spraying some boob juice on it if you didn't happen to have neosporin lying around.

    Biohazard. Pshaw.

  2. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:57 AM |  

    supreme incompetence is running amok!
    At both of the facilities I have worked, all parents were notified that if they brought anything unlabeled it would be labeled permanently by center staff. While yes, small children share many uwanted things with each other, it is bound to happen that their tastiest drink is shared with their favorite pal- if not the whole class, before the hawkish eye of a teacher is alerted.
    I'd be more upset if they received a drink of sugar laden "juice".
    Who has written their guidelines and why not follow preset guidelines by the gov. and other entities?
    pish-posh on this nonsense!

  3. Anonymous Anonymous | 12:08 PM |  

    If breastmilk is a biohazard then why do we have breastmilk banks that collect breastmilk and give it to premature children? Day care workers should be far more afraid of poop and coughs.

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