Free online breast milk donations spark safety concerns - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Free online breast milk donations spark safety concerns

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WATERLOO (KWWL) - The rate of breastfeeding in Iowa continues to grow, and has reached levels higher than the national rate, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

But not every new mom can breastfeed and, if she wants to offer breast milk for her baby, she could have to fork over quite a bit of money to pay for someone else's milk.

Now, moms have turned to one another to help by forming an online group on Facebook called, "Human Milk 4 Human Babies."

Jennifer Bachmann, a mother of five in Waterloo, has already donated a supply of frozen breast milk to an adoptive mom.

"They're not getting anything that's worse or better than what my daughter's getting," she said.

Iowa moms can post their breast milk needs online, and breast feeding moms can respond with free donations -- a much cheaper option than going through a hospital or the "Mother's Milk Bank of Iowa," which screens, pasteurizes and ships donated breast milk to hospitals and moms in Iowa and 16 other states.

Jean Drulis, from "Mother's Milk Bank of Iowa," said if people wouldn't share blood, they shouldn't share breast milk.

Drulis said an ounce of donated breast milk costs approximately $4.50, but that the expense is not the donated milk, it's the screening and pasteurization of the milk.

She said they test for HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Syphilis, and HTLV.

According to Drulis, they've never had a confirmed positive at the Coralville location, but other milk banks in the U.S. have found breast milk donations to be contaminated.

She said they're always looking for breast milk donors.

Still, Bachmann said it boils down to personal choice.

"It is risky, but you would hope that if these moms are feeding to their children, that it's safe enough to feed your own," she said.
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