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Lot of Articles Lately on Black Market Milk

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.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Seems like there's been a lot of news articles lately about the rise in milk banks, breast milk demand and the growth of the breast milk black market via the web.

From the Boston Herald:

At $3 an ounce - about $100 a day - many moms can’t afford to buy from a regulated milk bank, but with a few clicks they can find it for as little as $1 an ounce. Diseases such as HIV and hepatitis can be transmitted through untreated breast milk.
“Buyers should beware that they may even be getting goat’s milk from somebody who just wants to make money. That’s what’s dangerous,” said Lois D.W. Arnold, who teaches at Healthy Children Project in East Sandwich.

From the Student Operated Press:

But a fairly new phenom has some questioning whether or not we have taken this idea of for your convenience a little too far. These are breast milk banks. Yes, breast milk banks. Women all over the country are pumping their milk and sending it in to these banks to be processed and sent out to needy families.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Demand for donated milk rose 28 percent last year at the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, which operates nine banks in the United States, from Delaware to Denver, and one in Canada.

Much of the 745,000 ounces the association shipped in 2005 was prescribed for premature or otherwise ill infants, though parents of healthy babies who are adopted or whose mothers can't breast-feed also can obtain prescriptions. Up to 15 percent of mothers experience serious difficulties breast-feeding, said Dr. Joan Meek, editor of the American Academy of Pediatrics' "New Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding."

The banks typically charge about $3 an ounce, to cover their costs. By contrast, powdered formula can cost as little as 10 cents an ounce.

I realized why all these stories are popping up when I ran across another one and was reminded of the interview I did a few weeks back.

Prolacta, the for-profit milk bank, has just opened up operations and is on a publicity kick trying to spread the word. That's generating a lot of new media coverage for milk banking and breast milk. That's a good thing, in that it's new coverage for milk banking, but it's a bummer in that I worry that Prolacta's marketing dollars will make it more difficult for HMBANA milk banks to recruit donors.

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  1. Blogger Carina | 9:06 PM |  

    Hi, I'm new to your blog, but I just had to comment on this one.

    If I had my druthers I wouldn't contribute to Prolacta. The idea that they'd make money off of my milk, and I wouldn't, seems ludicrous. I'd rather contribute to the non-profit, all things being equal.

    I'd love to be a professional wet nurse, can't we bring back the 3rd oldest profession in the world?

  2. Blogger independantmom | 11:23 AM |  

    I agree a milk bank is the way to go seems how they do the processing to make others milk safe, and I agree they do great things for infants in need. However, they are not all non-profit and do turn around and sell it to the hospitals and parents in need for a pretty penny. Yes it pays for the processing machines but I am positive they are making a profit off it. Why can't they pay you at least 50% of what they sell it for per ounce? Other "non-profit" banks pay for plasma and sperm, how is breast milk any different?

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