Thanks largely to the social media’s contribution on the milk-sharing front, mothers who are unable to breastfeed their babies are now reaching out to strangers for donations of human milk; with the result that registered milk banks are now being bypassed.
With milk-sharing networks, like Human Milk 4 Human Babies, serving as a link between mother needing breast milk for their babies and those women who are willing to provide it free of charge, experts are of the opinion that such milk-sharing from strangers involves several health risks, as milk can potentially carry bacteria and viruses, including the HIV virus.
The Queensland chapter of the milk-sharing worldwide movement via social media has revealed that mothers who are unable to breastfeed are receiving help from all across the state, with fresh as well as frozen breast milk being donated by other women.
The requests of milk donations on the social media have been responded to by strangers, even for babies who are less than three weeks old; and even one in a critical condition in hospital.
Highlighting the risks associated with peer-to-peer milk-sharing, and also requesting mothers to seek help from screened and registered milk bank services, Marea Ryan – director of Mothers' Milk Bank – said that milk-sharing from strangers involves risks of “viruses passing through to the baby, and if they (other women) haven't had good hygiene at the point of collecting and expressing the milk, there's potential there for bacteria to be in the milk.”
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