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Entries in Milk Banks (1)

Tuesday
Dec072010

As Breast Milk Sharing Becomes More Popular, FDA Weighs Risks

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Although milk banks have become increasingly popular for mothers and fathers, there is no federal regulation governing the donating and distributing of human milk. The only state-regulated milk banks are in California and New York, where donor milk banks must be licensed tissue banks and are regulated by the state Health Department.

To address the regulatory situation, the Food and Drug Administration held an informational session Dec. 6, where advisers weighed in on the safety, risks and needed regulation for the collection, screening, processing and distribution of human milk.

The meeting came on the heels of an FDA warning issued last week about what it believes are the risks -- including contamination and the spread of illness -- of feeding a baby breast milk from a source other than its mother.

"Milk banks are important in the way that blood banks are important," said Karla Shepard Rubinger, executive director of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. "Blood banks need oversight and regulations. You ask most people about milk banks and they go 'yucky.' Ask them how they feel about blood banks, and they'll say we need to support them."

According to the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, milk banks dispensed a total of 409,077 ounces of milk in 2000. In 2005, that number increased by 45 percent. And demand continues to grow.

While many milk banks voluntarily follow the milk banking association's guidelines, the FDA has recently become aware of for-profit milk banks like Prolacta Bioscience, a large-scale human milk company, and the donation and selling of breast milk through the Internet.

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