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FDA Weighs In as Sharing of Breast Milk Booms
Date:12/10/2010

for mothers who could not breast-feed their own babies, organizers said that mothers today are smart enough to determine if another woman's milk is fit for their infants.

Myriad reasons prompt the need for donated breast milk, including a baby's prematurity, illness or a mother's absence or inability to produce sufficient milk

"Women want to do the best thing for their babies. To suggest otherwise is quite patriarchal," said Emma Kwasnica, a Montreal-based mother of three who joined with Shell Walker of Phoenix, Ariz., to form Eats on Feets. "What's the big deal? The [donating] women are already feeding their own baby. No one is going into this lightly."

"It's really not a health issue," added Kwasnica, whose children are 14 months, 3 years and 7 years of age. "I think it's a political issue, quite frankly."

The Internet's role in milk sharing does seem suspect to some, however, especially to older generations who are not as comfortable with technology and who associate it with "stranger danger," Kwasnica said.

"It's kind of like they think we're drug dealing or doing something crazy," she said. "We're so afraid of bodily fluids in North America. But breast milk is a very different thing. It's not like semen or blood. It's a food."

Kwasnica and Walker point out that new mothers who donate their breast milk have recently undergone rigorous medical screening, including blood work, during pregnancy and childbirth. Those considering using their milk can easily determine if the donors are healthy, they said.

"I would ask, where do people think the milk banks are getting their milk from?" said Walker. "They're getting their milk on the Internet, just like we are, and it's worked out fine." Walker has four children, ages 19, 18, 9 and 8.

She said there's room for both milk banks and milk-sharing networks, "and the FDA can leave both of them alone."

Kwasnica said that breast milk bought through milk banks typicall
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