DOES HAITI NEED OUR MILK?

Tell them not to send it,” was Eric Porterfield, a spokesman for the American Red Cross comment about the shipment of 500 ounces of donated breast milk which had just arrived in Haiti. “I’m 100 percent sure we didn’t ask for that.”  Lt. David Shark from the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance told the press that the idea of distributing human milk was an “unfeasible and unsafe intervention”. 

From Miami, to Ohio, to San Jose breastfeeding mothers across the United States had rallied to help infants in Haiti.  The cry for help went out on Tuesday and almost immediately 1,000 ounces of screened, donated breast milk was ready to ship out.  By Thursday 500 ounces had been packed in dry ice and had already arrived at their final destination, an American Naval ship off the coast of Haiti named the “USNS Comfort”.  The 2 day trip had included a commercial airline flight, transfer to a chartered plane, and finally a helicopter.  The milk remained frozen the entire time. 

According to one report as of Wednesday a few lactating mothers on the crew of the USNS Comfort had already begun donating their breast milk to the 120 babies in need aboard the ship. The 62nd patient to come on board late Monday was a baby boy born the day before the Jan. 12 earthquake. “I would say within about a day or so, he would have died,” said Kensington’s Capt. Daniel Shmorhun, one of the doctors attending the child. To help solve the problem, Shmorhun said, lactating members of Comfort’s crew are pumping breast milk that will be stored for the babies on board to drink. A supply of breast milk from the U.S. is also supposed to be brought in soon. “We’re creating a breast milk bank,” Shmorhun said. Clearly the need was urgent, and was recognized by many on board.

The problem according to Lt. Shark was the “huge logical constraints”.  Specifically he pointed out that there was a “lack of cold chain supply, and no clear guidance on ethical issues, breast milk screening, and continuity of supply.”  Even Dr. Nune Mangasaryan senior advisor on infant nutrition for UNICEF agreed.  “At this point it’s not the recommended way of assisting Haiti. … the systems needed to transport [breast milk] and to deliver it in the country, are not ready at this point. You have to have quite a significant number of freezers, you have to have electricity, and you have to be able to transport it from one part of the country to another. [With the current level of devastation] at this point, donating breast milk isn’t preferable.”

But I have to wonder, if the same helicopter had arrived with a donation of human blood, would the response have been the same?  Blood donations also have to be screened, and protected by a “cold chain”.  Would lack of freezers, electricity, and transport issues been enough reason for them to turn away two coolers of donated blood? Of course not, there is no viable substitute for human blood.  But we live in a culture where infant formula is considered a “safe” alternative to breast milk.

How sad that even the good Dr. Mangasaryan from UNICEF considers infant formula preferable to donated milk. “ At this point what we recommend for them is ready-to-use infant formula, that’s already in a liquid form, meaning no risk of contamination by mixing powdered formula with water, for example. It’s already ready-to-use, and there are certain numbers already available in the country.”  It is safe, and it is already available.  Why use the real thing when we have a more convenient alternative?

But according to a joint statement issued by The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC), International Lactation Consultant Association/United States Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA/USLCA), and La Leche League International (LLLI) “Formula feeding is extremely risky in emergency conditions and artificially fed infants are vulnerable to the biggest killers of children in emergencies: diarrhea and pneumonia.”  The statement went on to say that they “…strongly affirm the importance of breastfeeding in emergency situations, and call on relief workers and health care providers serving victims of disasters to protect, promote, and support mothers to breastfeed their babies. During an emergency, breastfeeding mothers provide their infants with safe food and water and disease protection that maximize their chances of survival.”

Right now of the 3 million victims in Haiti an estimated 52,000 are under 6 months of age.  And of the 37,000 estimated pregnant women in the country approximately 10,000 will give birth in the next month.  Meanwhile as we sit back debate the ethics and logistics of human milk donations two Styrofoam coolers of milk remain in the freezers of the US Comfort, bringing comfort to no one. 

Call for breast milk donations in Haiti goes bust

Intentions may be good, but supply isn’t safe or necessary, aid groups say

By JoNel Aleccia

Health writer

msnbc.com

When lactation consultant Faith Ploude heard that babies in Haiti might need donated breast milk, she made sure to get the word out to her classes at Mercy Hospital in Miami — and her database of more than 1,000 nursing moms.

“Everybody is moved because Haiti is so devastated,” she said.

But it turns out that Ploude and a bevy of United States breast-feeding advocates may have unleashed a well-meaning but misguided flood of mothers’ milk to the earthquake-shattered nation, one that aid workers in Haiti say was not requested — and is not needed

“Tell them not to send it,” said Eric Porterfield, a spokesman for the American Red Cross. “I’m 100 percent sure we didn’t ask for that.”

The international Emergency Nutrition Network has asked one group, the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, to retract a press release this week that issued an “urgent call” for breast milk for orphaned and premature infants in Haiti, saying the donations contradict best practices for babies in emergencies.

Such donations pose problems of transportation, screening, supply and storage and create an “unfeasible and unsafe intervention,” according to a statement from the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, or OFDA.

Simply trying to fill a need
Pauline Sakamoto, executive director of HMBANA, said the group was simply trying to help fill a need, if not in Haiti, then elsewhere. Donated milk that doesn’t make it to Haitian babies will be diverted for use in the U.S. and Canada, she said.

“We don’t want to waste an ounce of milk. It’s very precious,” she said, adding.

The confusion started earlier this week when the milk bank group and several organizations — including heavy hitters like La Leche League International — urged nursing mothers to donate milk. While representatives for aid agencies such as the American Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and World Vision said there never was a need for donated milk, some agencies said they heard from workers at orphanages in Haiti who indicated that babies were going hungry.

“This was very grass roots,” said Amanda Nickerson, executive director of the International Breast Milk Project.

That group arranged for donation and transport of 500 ounces of breast milk to the U.S. Navy ship Comfort, the hospital ship parked off the coast of Haiti. The ship is equipped with a neonatal intensive care unit and freezer space. That’s enough milk to feed a newborn for a couple of weeks.

Donated milk remains unused
But the staff on the U.S. Navy ship said they haven’t used the milk out of concerns raised by OFDA and other agencies. Mothers aboard the Comfort are urged to nurse their own babies and there’s infant formula available to children whose mothers cannot or will not breast-feed, said Lt. David Shark, a U.S. Navy spokesman.

But that hasn’t stopped the flood of would-be donations in the U.S. Fueled by posts on parenting blogs and e-mail chains, hundreds of women across America began calling local milk bank agencies to ask about donating milk to Haiti babies.

“It’s sort of taken on a life of its own,” said Dr. Joan Younger-Meek, chairwoman of the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee.

Now the challenge is to quell the response of well-meaning mothers while still retaining support and awareness for breast milk donations to feed premature babies in the U.S. or to help those whose mothers can’t nurse.

“Breast-feeding women want to do something to help these babies in Haiti,” Younger-Meek said. “But the relief workers don’t have the infrastructure to support that need right now.”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35134523/ns/health-kids_and_parenting/ 

Will donating breast milk help Haitian infants? (Time/blog) 

This week several organizations, including the International Breast Milk Project, issued a call for human milk donations for infants in Haiti, as the U.S. Navy ship Comfort is equipped with a neonatal intensive care unit that can transport the breast milk. Yet, while nursing mothers have heeded the call, and some 500 ounces of donated breast milk have already been sent to Haiti by joint efforts of the International Breast Milk Project and the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, a joint statement issued by the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the United Nations World Food Programme suggests that, at this point, the necessary infrastructure isn’t yet in place for those well-meaning donations to truly make a difference. To learn more about the best way to help babies struggling to survive in the wake of the Haiti disaster, TIME spoke with Dr. Nune Mangasaryan, senior adviser on infant nutrition for UNICEF.

“Human milk donations while safe when processed and pasteurized in a human milk bank also require fully functioning cold chains. Such conditions are not currently met in Haiti and human milk donations cannot be used at present.”

Dr. Mangasaryan: At this point it’s not the recommended way of assisting Haiti. The reason for saying this, is that the systems needed to transport [breast milk] and to deliver it in the country, are not ready at this point. You have to have quite a significant number of freezers, you have to have electricity, and you have to be able to transport it from one part of the country to another. [With the current level of devastation] at this point, donating breast milk isn’t preferable.

TIME: Could that policy change in the future?

Dr. Mangasaryan: This doesn’t mean that in general, donated breast milk isn’t good. In the future, maybe after a few months, we can think about whether the institutions, orphanages, etc, are ready to accept [breast milk donations], but at this point we are doubtful.

TIME: For orphans, or babies separated from their mothers, what is recommended, if not breast milk donations at this point?

Dr. Mangasaryan: At this point what we recommend for them is ready-to-use infant formula, that’s already in a liquid form, meaning no risk of contamination by mixing powdered formula with water, for example. It’s already ready-to-use, and there are certain numbers already available in the country.

TIME: The joint statement deters people from trying to send formula directly to Haiti. From the statement:

In accordance with internationally accepted guidelines, donations of infant formula, bottles and teats and other powdered or liquid milk and milk products should not be made. Experience with past emergencies has shown an excessive quantity of products, which are poorly targeted, endangering infants’ lives. Any procurement of breast milk substitutes should be based on careful needs assessment and in coordination with UNICEF.

What is the best way to contribute to the nutritional needs of children and nursing mothers in Haiti?

Dr. Mangasaryan: Try to provide financial funding and support to agencies that are working on the ground. We have at this point, not only UNICEF, but a nutrition cluster working in Haiti, proactively working on the ground to make sure that all of this support comes to mothers and babies. These agencies are skilled, they know the job, they know what to do. The best is just to help them.

TIME: How will we know when the infrastructure is in place and breast milk donations can get to the infants who need them?

Dr. Mangasaryan: I would just say that this matter has to be revisited sometime later on, and it definitely this has to come from Haiti, from the specialists on the ground. We really need to look at them and see what are the best methods at this point. I know that there are organizations that are trying to help with breast milk in Haiti, and there are mothers who are ready to donate. It’s all done out of goodwill, but we really have to take into consideration current conditions.

Read more: http://wellness.blogs.time.com/2010/01/28/will-donating-breast-milk-help-haitian-infants/#ixzz0e0vsNKkf

http://wellness.blogs.time.com/2010/01/28/will-donating-breast-milk-help-haitian-infants/

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35134523/ns/health-kids_and_parenting/

Thousands of Haiti babies ‘could die from milk donations’  (London Evening Standard)

Thousands of Haitian infants are at risk of illness and death because wellwishers are supplying the wrong food, world health chiefs warned today.

The main threat to infants aged up to six months is powdered baby milk mixed in unclean water, which can cause diarrhoea, dehydration and death.

Bottles and teats which cannot be sterilised are also a risk, and a shipment of frozen milk, which could have spread infection after thawing, had to be turned away.

The volume of potentially life-threatening items being sent into Haiti is so great aid workers were having to waste large amounts of time “preventing harm”.

In a joint statement today with the World Health Organisation and World Food Program, Unicef said it “strongly urges all involved in the emergency response to avoid unnecessary illness and death by promoting breastfeeding and by preventing uncontrolled distribution and use of substitute milk.”

When breastfeeding is not possible, it recommends only tinned substitutes which do not require mixing and can be consumed instantly. Risk of death is “particularly high” to children aged under six months, Unicef added.

Miaj Ververs, nutrition co-ordinator for the United Nations relief effort in Haiti, said inappropriate foods were also being given to older children. She added: “We end up trying to prevent harm rather than providing the emergency relief that we want to.”

Officials estimate that of the three million victims, up to 52,000 aged six months or under are potentially at risk of malnourishment.

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23800003-thousands-of-haiti-infants-at-risk-of-death-from-milk-donations.do

Tiny Bottles of Relief Arrive for Haiti’s Newborns (AOL News)

Jan. 28) — For newborns struggling for life in the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake, 140 tiny but powerful bottles of relief arrived Thursday afternoon – breast milk donated by American mothers.

The bottles were no bigger than travel toiletries – 3 ounces – but chock full of the nutrients and immunities so vital to babies. Especially babies suffering from injuries and illness or born prematurely in a disaster area.

When a U.S. Navy helicopter carrying the precious cargo touched down on the USNS Comfort hospital ship, which sits off the coast of the devastated country, it was the final leg of a complicated sprint.

Talia Frenkel, American Red Cross / AP

Red Cross volunteer Jean Zacharie delivers first aid to a 1-month-old baby whose mother was killed by the earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
But after surviving a commercial plane flight, a charter ride, a helicopter trip and two days on dry ice, the milk ran headlong into red tape.

Navy spokesman Lt. David Shark, who is aboard the Comfort, said U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, which is part of USAID, complained about the idea of distributing donated breast milk and issued a statement calling it an “unfeasible and unsafe intervention.”

“We acknowledge the generosity of the donor of the breast milk but have concerns based on years of best practices. It is the humanitarian community’s position that supporting donations of donor breast milk is not recommended in emergencies for a number of reasons,” the OFDA statement said.

“These reasons include huge logistical constraints, lack of cold chain supply, and no clear guidance on ethical issues, breast milk screening, and continuity of supply,” it said.

But Shark said the milk may still be used. The important “cold chain” was preserved – meaning the milk stayed frozen during the trip. Doctors from the Comfort, which has more than 200 military medical personnel aboard, will make a presentation to the task force that oversees U.S. efforts in Haiti.

“There a very real possibility we will be using the product soon,” Shark said. Meanwhile, the milk sits in two Styrofoam coolers just inside a large freezer on the Comfort.

The effort to get that milk into the Comfort’s freezer began on Tuesday, as word went out to mothers’ groups around the country that the Haitian babies needed help. The nation’s 10 nonprofit milk banks – which usually get breast milk donations for medically fragile American infants whose mothers cannot provide it – were quickly flooded with hundreds of calls from mothers touched by the images of devastation in Haiti since the 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Jan. 12.

“It shows the best of the best the U.S. can muster,” said Pauline Sakamoto, head of The Human Milk Banking Association of North America, which provided the milk. “It’s just an outpouring of support.”

All those offers of donations will help any future shipments to Haiti if there are any and replenish the already low supplies in U.S. milk banks. The first shipment was culled from supplies on hand and handed off Tuesday morning to Quick International Courier, which donated its services to get the milk to Haiti and handled all the complications involved in keeping the milk frozen.

The frozen milk arrived in the wee hours of Thursday morning in Port-au-Prince and was picked up by a Navy helicopter. By Thursday afternoon the milk was aboard and ready for premature babies and other sick infants, some of them orphaned by the disaster.

Amanda Nickerson, head of the International Breast Milk Project, which led the effort, said 1,000 ounces were ready to ship. But the Comfort didn’t have enough freezer space. Her nonprofit had made a similar shipment to the Philippines last October after a typhoon and regularly sends milk to infants in South Africa, many of them orphaned by AIDS. She hopes to send more milk to Haiti.

Haiti has 37,000 pregnant women in its capital alone, and 10,000 of them are due in the next 30 days, according to Alina Labrada of CARE, a nonprofit that fights poverty and helps women and children around the world. Conditions there are still difficult, said Labrada, whose organization has 30 workers in the country. “The water is so dirty, the sanitation is such a problem, a lot of women don’t have enough to eat and drink themselves and aren’t going to make enough milk.”

Sakamoto said she hopes Americans also will donate to organizations that help Haitian mothers breast-feed amid the chaotic aftermath of the earthquake.

The dirty water in Haiti also means that formula can be dangerous for babies in displaced families who don’t have clean water to mix with it.

The International Lactation Consultant Association on Thursday warned people not to send formula to Haiti. After the Asian tsunamis, formula donations caused a tripling of diarrheal disease, according to the association.

U.S. milk banks regularly take donations from mothers after putting the donors through a screening test similar to what’s done for blood donations. The women also must take a blood test and get approval from their doctors. The milk comes from mothers who are pumping milk for their own children and end up with extra. The milk is pasteurized and frozen.

In 2008 – the most recent year for which figures are available – Sakamoto’s organization shipped 1.4 million ounces of milk out to neonatal intensive care units and other doctors to dispense.

Dane Nutty, outreach director of the Indiana Mothers’ Milk Bank, said he hopes to find a way to help Haitian infants who aren’t on the Comfort. The logistics are daunting.

“If you have a country without power, how are you going to store the milk?” Nutty asked. “We are building up our supplies so that when we do work out the logistics on land, we will have a supply ready.”

Meanwhile, the new donors could help shore up supplies for U.S. babies.

“This is a phenomenal response,” Sakamoto said. “But there are kids in this country in the same situation that need this milk. They may not be in a major earthquake, but they can’t tolerate other food sources and they have high-risk medical [conditions].”

http://www.aolnews.com/nation/article/tiny-bottles-of-breast-milk-arrive-for-haitis-newborns/19336660

 UPDATED STATEMENT: January 28, 2010

BREASTFEEDING IS THE FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE IN A DISASTER

The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC), International Lactation Consultant Association/United States Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA/USLCA), and La Leche League International (LLLI) strongly affirm the importance of breastfeeding in emergency situations, and call on relief workers and health care providers serving victims of disasters to protect, promote, and support mothers to breastfeed their babies. During an emergency, breastfeeding mothers provide their infants with safe food and water and disease protection that maximize their chances of survival.

This week, the International Milk Bank Project and Quick International Courier coordinated a shipment of milk from the HMBANA member banks to supplement a mother’s own milk for the premature, medically fragile, and orphaned infants aboard the U.S. Navy ship Comfort stationed off the coast of Haiti. This milk will help this small group of infants. In this highly unusual circumstance the infrastructure associated with the Comfort’s resources allows U.S. sourced donor milk to help fragile Haitian babies.

Donor milk, however, is not a solution for the large number of infants and young children affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Members of the public who wish to promote the survival of mothers and babies in Haiti can donate money to the following organizations: UNICEF, Save the Children Alliance, World Vision, and Action Against Hunger. These organizations are using best practice to aid both breastfed and non-breastfed infants. Members of the public can be confident that donations to these organizations will support breastfeeding and help save the lives of babies.

Interventions to protect infants include supporting mothers to initiate and continue exclusive breastfeeding, relactation for mothers who have ceased breastfeeding, and finding wet nurses for motherless or separated babies. Every effort should be made to minimize the number of infants and young children who do not have access to breastfeeding. Artificially fed infants require intensive support from aid organizations including infant formula, clean water, soap, a stove, fuel, education, and medical support. This is not an easy endeavor. Formula feeding is extremely risky in emergency conditions and artificially fed infants are vulnerable to the biggest killers of children in emergencies: diarrhea and pneumonia.

As stated by UNICEF and WHO, no donations of infant formula or powdered milk should be sent to the Haiti emergency. Such donations are difficult to manage logistically, actively detract from the aid effort, and put infant’s lives at risk. Distribution of infant formula should only occur in a strictly controlled manner. Stress does not prevent women from making milk for their babies, and breastfeeding women should not be given any infant formula or powdered milk.

There are ongoing needs in the U.S. for human milk for premature and other extremely ill infants because of the protection it provides from diseases and infections. If a mother is unable to provide her own milk to her premature or sick infant, donor human milk is often requested from a human milk bank. American mothers can help their compatriots who find themselves in need of breast milk for their sick baby by donating to a milk bank that is a member of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.

For more information about donating milk to a milk bank, contact HMBANA at http://www.hmbana.org. Additional information for relief workers and health care professionals can be provided from the United States Breastfeeding Committee at http://www.usbreastfeeding.org, ILCA/USLCA at http://www.ilca.org or http://www.uslca.org, or La Leche League International at http://www.llli.org. A list of regional milk banks is available on the HMBANA Web site at http://www.hmbana.org/index/locations.

Sincerely, Angela Smith, President

ILCA Board of Directors

http://www.ilca.org/files/in_the_news/press_room/Update_Haiti_press_release%20pdf.pdf 

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To help solve the problem, Shmorhun said, lactating members of Comfort’s crew are pumping breast milk that will be stored for the babies on board to drink. A supply of breast milk from the U.S. is also supposed to be brought in soon. “We’re creating a breast milk bank,” Shmorhun said.

http://www.gazette.net/stories/01272010/damanew224820_32548.php 

 

Infant Victims of Haiti’s Earthquake Need Breast Milk

January 28, 2010 |  6:55 am

OK, you’ve opened your hearts to the hundreds of thousands of bereft and destitute victims of the Haitian earthquake. Hopefully, you’ve opened your wallets and maybe even scoured your closets for things to send.

But — and here, I address myself to lactating moms — have you opened your shirt yet?

Several groups promoting breast milk and breastfeeding are putting out an “urgent call” for human milk donations, saying the infrastructure is “now in place” for aid groups to receive and distribute breast milk to premature and orphaned infants affected by the earthquake in Haiti.

In fact, human milk donations right now can only be delivered safely aboard the U.S. Navy ship Comfort, which has a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and is caring for some Haitian babies born prematurely. But Gina Ciagne, a certified lactation counselor* and director of breastfeeding and consumer relations at Lansinoh Labs, said it’s important for women willing to pump their milk for donation to identify themselves to the closest chapter of the Human Milk Banking Assn. of North America. They’ll need to get their blood tested and certify that they don’t take most medications or herbal supplements, don’t smoke or take illegal drugs, and are willing to donate at least 100 ounces of milk.

The Human Milk Banking Assn. of North America is one of the groups making the appeal for donations. Joining the group are: LaLeche League International, the U.S. and International Lactation Consultants Associations and the United States Breastfeeding Committee.

Milk donations must be processed and pasteurized in a human milk bank before shipping and then kept in a steady state of refrigeration until they reach recipients — a tall order in the ruined country, where electricity is virtually nonexistent and relief deliveries remain spotty in many places. Late last week, UNICEF put out a statement saying “conditions are not currently met in Haiti” for human milk donations.

At the same time, UNICEF underscored the importance of nourishing and protecting babies in disaster sitiations by encouraging the continuation — and resumption, where possible — of breastfeeding. The U.N. office called exclusive breastfeeding of babies under 6 months old “a lifeline” in this emergency situation, where water treatment infrastructure is damaged or nonexistent and communicable diseases are on the rise.

UNICEF also repeated “internationally accepted guidelines” that strongly discourage the donation of breast-milk substitutes such as infant formula or powdered milk or milk products. Because those may require the use of water that is not sufficiently clean and because milk replacements can prompt some traumatized nursing mothers to cease or reduce their breastfeeding, denying their babies some of breastmilk’s protective benefits.

That was a problem after the Asian tsunami of 2004. According to the Emergency Nutrition Network, some 72% of families with infants received donated baby formula. The result was a dramatic decline in breastfeeding and a tripling of diarrheal diseases among babies, the British group concluded. “People are really well-meaning, and it’s a very difficult concept for people to grasp,” said lactation consultant Gina Ciagne. “But breastfeeding is going to be so much better.”

— Melissa Healy

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2010/01/haitian-earthquake-victims-iso-mothers-milk.html

January 27, 2010, 8:00 pm

Sending Breast Milk to Haiti  (New York Times /blog)

By LISA BELKIN

What to do for Haiti? Many of us are sending money. And some of us are sending breast milk.

The International Breast Milk Project and the Human Milk Banking Association of North America are coordinating an effort to get donations of human breast milk packed in dry ice, onto airplanes, ships and helicopters, through bureaucratic red tape and into orphanages for infants who are premature, orphaned and ill.

These groups regularly send donor milk for use in hospitals in the United States and Canada, as well as to AIDS babies in Africa and during emergency situations like the one now in Port-au-Prince. To donate, mothers must undergo a medical screening, and in addition to being in good health, the H.M.B.A.N.A. Web site says, they must be nonsmokers and may not regularly consume any medication, including megavitamins. Around the time of donation, they may not drink alcohol nor take a specified list of “excluded medications.”

http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/27/sending-breast-milk-to-haiti/

Breast Milk to Orphaned and Sick Babies in Haiti  (PR Newswire United Business Media)

Quick International Courier donates its services for fast delivery

NEW YORK, Jan. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Today, International Breast Milk Project (IBMP) and Quick International Courier delivered close to 500 ounces of donor breast milk for premature, sick and orphaned infants aboard the USNS Comfort’s Medical Treatment Center stationed outside Haiti.

The ship is equipped with a neonatal intensive care unit and medical staff to provide emergency care to the youngest victims of the earthquake. They are uniquely positioned to handle a donation of breast milk because they maintain cold chain requirements and ensure proper handling and security of the donation.

Emphasizing the importance of human milk, Jay N. Gordon, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the UCLA Medical School, said, “Nothing protects at-risk, premature or sick infants like mother’s milk does.  Breast milk’s natural antibodies prevent illnesses, treat illnesses and will save lives.”

The earthquake that devastated Haiti has left countless infants without their mothers and without breast milk. Amanda Nickerson, Executive Director, for International Breast Milk Project told MediaGlobal, “Unfortunately, without proper infrastructure in place, frozen donor milk is not going to be a viable option for so many infants in need, but we are happy to make a difference in the lives of the infants aboard the USNS Comfort.”

Quick International Courier, a global medical logistics specialist, donated their services to provide packaging, dry ice and the fastest and most secure cold chain transport services to Haiti.

“It is so rewarding to be able to help make a difference in the lives of orphaned and critically ill babies.  As a mother and a person concerned about the world and health, this project really speaks to my heart,” said Dominique Bischoff-Brown, COO of Quick International Courier.

This humanitarian project has been made possible with the active cooperation of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, who provided the donor milk, Toby and Maggie Moffett, of the Moffett Group in Washington, D.C., and the offices of Congressman Courtney, Congresswomen Betty McCollum, and Congresswomen Rosa DeLauro and the dedicated staff of the USNS Comfort.

IBMP is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding solutions to ensure that infants worldwide have access to donor milk when they need it. Since its inception, IBMP has provided over 65,000 bottles (262,682 ounces, 7,768 liters or 2,052 gallons) of donor breast milk to infants around the world.

For more information, please contact Amanda Nickerson, Executive Director. Cell: 786.837.3082. Email: amanda@breastmilkproject.org.

Visit www.breastmilkproject.org for additional details.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/international-breast-milk-project-delivers-donor-breast-milk-to-orphaned-and-sick-babies-in-haiti-82973372.html  

Ohio moms donate breast milk to Haiti babies

Haitian infants lack the breast milk. Mother’s Milk Bank of Ohio, which is located in Victorian Village in Columbus, donated about 500 ounces of breast milk in 140 bottles.

http://www.examiner.com/x-34433-Columbus-Headlines-Examiner~y2010m1d28-Ohio-moms-donate-breast-milk-to-Haiti-babies

San Jose Mother’s Milk Bank Helps Haiti

San Jose Mother’s Milk Bank is the only one of its kind in the Western U.S.  Now  the bank has sent about 500 ounces of donated breast milk to Haiti.   “Just this past week we got an emergency call from Navy pediatricians that they desperately need breast milk sent to Haiti,” Pauline Sakamoto said. 

The Milk Bank is also receiving about 100 calls a day from women who are offering to donate to help babies in Haiti. But those women must first be screened for certain diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C before they can be accepted as donor

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local-beat/San-Jose-Mothers-Milk-Bank-Helps-Babies-in-China-82848767.html

Miami Moms Donate Their Breast Milk to Haiti

Most babies aren’t up for sharing, but Miami moms think their infants will make an exception for this cause.

http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local-beat/Breast-Milk-Donations-Needed-82839927.html

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9 Comments

Filed under breast milk, breastfeeding, Breastfeeding in the News, Uncategorized

9 responses to “DOES HAITI NEED OUR MILK?

  1. Wish they would start a petition–bet they could get hundreds of thousands of people saying this is insane and to find a way to use the milk.

  2. I think part of the problem is that pre-mixed liquid formula can go out with food aid, while breast milk requires cold storage (and sometimes a medical setting)? I’m not saying formula is the right thing to feed a newborn or a baby, but it seems like a matter of logistics more than anything else. I am glad to hear that the babies aboard the Comfort are getting milk from the small donation and the crew’s efforts.

  3. Let’s not forget about wet nursing for orphans – this is a ‘donor milk’ that is local, has the added benefit of the breastfeeding ‘delivery system’, and offers an opportunity for an infant to secure the closeness, comfort and care of the wet nurse. With the best of intentions, everyone wants to ‘send stuff’ to help – we need to look at what is locally available, and that includes local sources of donor breastmilk, ideally delivered through breastfeeding.

    UNICEF and WHO have issued guidance on infant feeding in the context of HIV for Haiti, since this is often a concern when wet nursing is mentioned. As stated in the guidance: “Wet-nursing may be the safest option for feeding infants without mothers to ensure their survival in an emergency situation, ideally from a woman known to be HIV-negative. Considering the prevalence of HIV in Haiti, the likelihood of HIV transmission during a limited period of breastfeeding, e.g. 1-2 months, by a woman whose HIV status is not known, is very low for the infant and even lower for the wet-nurse”. See the full statement on: http://www.ennonline.net/resources/738
    Other key resources on infant feeding in emergencies are at http://www.ennonline.net/ife

  4. Liz

    Thank you for posting ALL the articles together. What most folks don’t know is that the original shipment of processed donor milk coordinated through HMBANA was intended for at least one preemie whose mother had undergone major surgery and was in intensive care on the ship. It is my understanding that the singular shipment was never intended to be distributed into the countryside nor was it intended to induce additional shipments. It was curriered with a Red Cross shipment of blood products with appropriate cold storage.
    The excitement within the lactation support community and the furvor of the newsmedia have blown this all out of proportion.

  5. Erin

    I read a similar article last night, but it said they weren’t looking for formula donations either. The other piece stressed the importance of keeping the moms with babies nursing and finding wet nurses for any orphaned babies.

    On a side note, I know a California family that will gladly use donated breastmilk. The baby was delivered at 28 weeks because his mama was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma which spread to her lungs. She passed away a few days after Christmas and the baby was just released from the hospital a few days ago. You can check out their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Leinen-Family/167177373908?ref=ts#/pages/The-Leinen-Family/167177373908?v=wall&ref=ts

  6. Liz

    Yes, Erin, there are many babies here in the US who can benefit from donated milk. I feel that the outcry for milk donation (for haiti) brought light to the fact that we have 10 HMBANA member Human Milk Banks in the US who provide this service for our NICUs. Just like blood donation, it all hinges on altruistic moms and milk bank sponsors who support this valuable work. While it may not be appropriate to send any kind of milk/human, cow or otherwise to Haiti, the importance of milk banking certainly got a lot of press exposure.

  7. It is interesting to see all the articles put together like that. I hope that they really aren’t using formula either, but are using wet nurses. That would obviously be best for the babies.

  8. The mobilization of moms to donate their milk for infants in Haiti after the earthquake was a public relations campaign broadcast on the internet. The donations increased US milk bank supplies and will go to mostly US babies. What is the justification for using a disaster to make things better for your own situation? Amanda Nickerson, executive director of the International Breast Milk Project (IBMP), is quoted at msnbc.com, “This was very grass roots.” Grass roots? Not. Women were not badgering the milk banks to donate milk. The milk banks generated the PR in order to create the drive for donations. Why is HMBANA connecting itself to an organization (IBMP) that has not severed its ties to Prolacta?

  9. Attie Sandink

    Breastmilk is a gift that is given from the heart. I am so appalled that the Red Cross and others working in Haiti would find the sending of breastmilk, a self serving idea for those who promote breastfeeding and breastmilk. It is the Formula companies that at self serving and who can well afford to send lots of Powdered (non sterile, with the potential to cause dysentry and other intestinal problems) Formula. What does the World Health Organization/UNICEF say about the sending of free formula?

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