Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Who owns breastfeeding? Or, why I'm troubled by the Big Latch On this year

This is just a quick post based on news today that I find disturbing.

The interwebz are buzzing with the news that Mother's Milk Cooperative, the sister company of Prolacta founder Elena Medo's new venture, Medolac, will be sponsoring the Big Latch On this year. (See Significant corporate developments in the US human milk marketplace, October, 2013)

Earlier this spring I wrote a lengthy post to Lactnet, which is available in their public archives, where I observed that Medolac's entry into the human milk marketplace is really shaking things up:
"... There seems to be a growing divide between commercial and not-for-profit interests. On the commercial side we're seeing a battle of "titans" as Medo seeks to redeem herself after having lost control of Prolacta. She's been exceptionally clever in identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and answering/exploiting with her new corporate model. ... "

I love the Big Latch On. I have participated in a similar event, the Breastfeeding Challenge, founded in Canada in 2001 by the Quintessence Foundation, for many years. Like the Breastfeeding Challenge, the Big Latch On is a grassroots effort with a simple goal - to encourage women to gather in public to celebrate breastfeeding. I love and support grassroots breastfeeding initiatives that support breastfeeding and that support donor human milk. This blog stems from that love.
Simple, grassroots, driven by altruism.

The Mother's Milk Cooperative may have a crunchy grassroots sounding name, but take a closer look. Unlike milksharing initiatives, MMC did not rise up out of the grassroots. Rather, it was conceived to provide the supply side for Medolac. Sure, it will be paying a dollar an ounce to mothers, but the profit margin on its products will be significant, and I am concerned its model has the potential to be exploitive of mothers who would otherwise donate excess milk but are forced by economic circumstances to instead sell it.

Medolac recently hired a former infant food manufacturing company executive as their regulatory affairs advisor. When for profit companies step up to promote, support, and protect breastfeeding, I become very concerned.

Because a for-profit company's first priority is, above all else... profit. And so I'm concerned that profit is being sought at the expense of mothers and babies and the Big latch On is being exploited by for-profit interests.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Miracle Milk Mother's Day Stroll - get on board now!

Check out the Stroll website here.
The Best for Babes Foundation is once again showing leadership with the launch the first annual Miracle Milk(TM) Mother's Day Stroll.

With its blunt, "human milk saves lives" messaging and fearless reminder that 500 babies die each year of Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC), BfB is kickstarting awareness and donations of funds - and milk! -  for HMBANA's network of US and Canadian non-profit milk banks. The stroll also supports the fledgling NEC Society, ROSE, a group working to empower African American women to embrace breastfeeding as a cultural and societal norm, and USLCA, whose important work helps ensure breastfeeding support from trained professionals is there for moms who need it.

There are dozens of sites popping up all over Canada and the US - want to get involved? Take a look at the Coordinator’s Responsibilites then contact @ to volunteer to run a US Stroll, or me, if you want to organize a Stroll in Canada.

I love this event - here's why:
  • It raises the need for donor human milk where it should be, alongside national events like Run for the Cure.
  • Best for Babes Foundation is a leader in the formation of ethical partnerships - only their CARE-WHO Business Alliance members, who agree to uphold a code supporting mothers, and to meet their responsibilities under the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, can participate in Best for Babes projects, events, and programs. PJ's comfort breast pump maker Limerick and MotherLove Herbal company are on board as major event sponsors.
  • Order a t-shirt !

  • There are cute t-shirts! And lots of ways to participate - if there's no Stroll in your community, you can still donate funds or donate milk!

I'm lined up as the Canadian site coordinator, and I invite you to get on board and support this important cause. Registration is by donation - sign up now!

- Jodine

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Guest Post: Unlatched on NJ's proposed anti-milksharing campaign

This guest post from Unlatched's Rachelle Lesteshen questions a proposed campaign in New Jersey to warn parents against the "dangers of casual milksharing." There is a companion bill to license milk banks. It appears Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, who sponsored both bills, did not consult milksharing families in her state, or any milksharing advocates in the US or elsewhere. It appears she also did not reach out to HMBANA for expert advice on drafting her bill to regulate milk banks. Lampitt's heart is in the right place - she wants to protect babies - but will these bills do more harm than good? Have a read, and head on over to the Unlatched blog to comment.

New Jersey’s Proposed Anti-Milksharing Campaign—the Next Attack on Parental Informed Choice?

Posted on by A proposed bill (NJ A3702) in New Jersey has its sights on the informal milksharing community.  This bill:
“Establishes public awareness campaign advising pregnant women, new parents, and women who are breast feeding about dangers of casual milk sharing.”
After I read this bill, I immediately flashed back to Milwaukee’s infamous anti-bedsharing campaign from 2011.  Will New Jersey begin posting ads similar to these about milksharing?The above ads were Milwaukee’s attempt to reduce their infant mortality rate.  However, campaigns like these go against what is biologically normal and ignore research and evidence.  Bedsharing can be done safely, but the Milwaukee Health Department chose to just create a blanket campaign to admonish the practice all together.
This New Jersey milksharing bill is essentially another scaremongering tactic.  Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, who sponsored this bill, says this is about healthy babies, but the only thing a bill like this will do is push parents and caregivers away from seeking out donor milk, which has been shown time and time again to be beneficial for children.  She even failed to consult with the milksharing community and researchers.
New Jersey plans to discuss only the dangers of milksharing while providing no other information to parents and caregivers.  In Dr. Karleen D. Gribble’s 2012 paper, “Milk sharing and formula feeding: Infant feeding risks in comparative perspective?”,  she discusses issues with campaigns like this:
“There are risks associated with all forms of infant feeding, including breastfeeding and the use of manufactured infant formulas. However, health authorities do not warn against using formula or breastfeeding; they provide guidance on how to manage risk.”
So, why is New Jersey focusing only on informal milksharing risks?  Despite evidence pointing to how beneficial breastmilk is, their state officials are ignoring the research and outright trying to condemn the practice of milksharing based mostly on cultural beliefs that sharing breastmilk is dangerous and must be controlled.  This proposed campaign is patronizing to parents.  It assumes that caregivers are not capable of ensuring the safety of their children.  Humans have practiced milksharing in various forms (like wetnursing) for thousands of years and this practice is not stopping anytime soon.  Parents do not seek out donor breastmilk indiscriminately.  The milksharing community operates on the basis of informed choice where parents are educated on all risks and benefits of using donor milk.  The communities advise that donors and recipients operate under full disclosure.  Donors and recipients routinely screen each other to ensure they are a good match.  This includes getting medical histories, communication about lifestyle and habits, and disclosing any medication the donor may be using.  Donors also want to learn about the recipient family and what their needs are.  Oftentimes, these connections are very strong and develop into long lasting friendships.Gribble offers an excellent conclusion in her paper from 2011, “Milk sharing: from private practice to public pursuit” that helps summarize the concerns with bill NJ A3702:“Mothers are leading in this initiative. The public health community has a choice: stay on the side-lines or move to engage, to assist those who are involved in milk sharing to make it as safe as possible. We appeal for engagement in the belief that milk sharing will happen regardless of denunciations; that its level of risk is manageable; and that there are greater intractable risks for babies who do not receive breast milk. We believe that if undertaken, managed and evaluated appropriately, this made-by-mothers model shows considerable potential for expanding the world’s supply of human milk and improving the health of children.”
New Jersey Assemblywoman Lampitt, please reevaluate the objectives in this bill.  Do you truly believe that the scare tactics outlined will keep babies safe?  Can you see that this would create a barrier that ultimately keeps children from receiving species specific food that is optimal for their development?  Please do not let this proposed campaign be the next Milwaukee anti-cosleeping crusade.1475915_637640712948641_971439893_nWant to help the New Jersey milksharing community say “no” to this bill?  Sign the petition here:Support NJ milksharing families: Stop Bill A3702Stay up to date by following along on Facebook:Friends of New Jersey MilksharingTo better understand how milksharing is done safely, please check out the two biggest milksharing communities:
Human Milk for Human Babies (HM4HB) FAQ section:
Eats on Feets: Four Pillars of Safe Breast Milk Sharing:

To comment, head on over to Rachelle Lesteshen's Unlatched blog.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Japan gets human milk bank

Japan's Showa University School of Medicine has launched the country's first milk bank and plans to create a non-profit organization to launch more milk banks across the country over the next five years. According to Dr. Shoo Lee of the Canadian Neonatal Network, Japan has been successful in reducing its NEC rate to 0.5 per cent due to the use of exclusive human milk in the NICU. (See Human Milk News, Sept 2012: Canada looks to Japan's low NEC rate and use of only human milk in the NICU
Showa University creates Japan's 1st breast milk bank - Nov 30, 2013 - Asahi Shimbun 
The university's Department of Pediatrics plans to turn the milk bank into a nonprofit organization and popularize the service in Japan within the next five years.
Babies with low birth weights often have immune systems that are not fully functional, and breast milk is effective at preventing the risk of various diseases.
The proportion of undersized infants is rising in Japan, due to causes such as older mothers giving birth and the use of fertility treatments.
The milk bank got its start after receiving the approval of the university's ethics committee.
Tokyo's Showa University School of Medicine has developed Japan's first milk bank to make breast milk available to mothers who cannot produce their own due to illness or premature birth.... (full story.)

Of note, look at the lovely photo Asahi Shimbun used to illustrate this article.