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Lack of breast milk substitute nourishes rise in milk bank interest rates – WSVN 7News | Miami news, weather, sports

(AP) – The US shortage of breast milk substitutes has sparked a wave of interest from milk banks around the US, with some mothers offering to donate breast milk and desperate parents calling to hear if it is a solution to keep their babies fed .

It’s a path that will not work for any breast milk substitute, especially those with special dietary needs, and it comes with challenges because the country’s dozens of nonprofit milk banks prioritize feeding medically fragile infants. The organizations collect and process milk from mothers, including through pasteurization, and then work with hospitals to distribute it.

The shortage stemmed from a recall of security and supply disruptions and has caught national attention with panicked parents wanting to swap and buy formula online, and President Joe Biden urges manufacturers to increase production and discuss with retailers how to rebuild shelves to accommodate regional differences. The bid’s administration also said Friday that formula maker Abbott Laboratories has committed to giving discounts until August for a food stamp-like program that helps women, infants and children called WIC.

At Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, based in Newton, Massachusetts, interest in donating and receiving milk has increased due to the shortage. Typically, the milk bank receives about 30-50 calls a month from people who want to donate. On Thursday alone, there were 35 calls from potential donors, said Deborah Youngblood, the bank’s CEO.

“It’s interesting that the first kind of reaction we got was from potential donors – so people who responded to the lack of formula with a kind of amazing, compassionate response to ‘how can I be a part of the solution?'” She said.

Youngblood talked about people like Kayla Gillespie, a 38-year-old mother of three from Hays, Kansas. Gillespie first donated to Mothers’ Milk Bank in Denver six years ago, giving 18 gallons (68 gallons) after the birth of her first child, and had no plans to do so again.

“I thought 18 gallons was enough for one person,” she said. “If I had not heard of the deficiency, I would not go through the process again just because I have three children and it is a bit chaotic around here.”

She has promised at least 150 ounces of her milk, but said she expects to give much more than that.

“I’m very blessed to be able to produce milk, so I just felt like I had to do something,” she said.

She previously said she has sent her frozen milk in special containers to Denver, but this time her local hospital is taking the donations and she can just hand them over.

However, it is not just donors. Parents who are desperately seeking nutrition for their babies are also pursuing milk banks.

At the Massachusetts milk bank, about 30 people called and searched for milk because they could not find their baby’s usual breast milk substitute, Youngblood said. It’s up from almost no calls at all, as the milk bank typically serves hospitals.

The Human Milk Banking Association of North America, an accrediting organization for nonprofit dairy banks, is experiencing a “huge increase” in demand, according to Lindsay Groff, the group’s CEO. She estimates that inquiries from parents seeking to fill the formula gap have increased by 20% in recent days.

Groff called the shortage a “crisis” and said it is not that simple for parents to just supplement with donated breast milk because the vast majority of these supplies are earmarked for babies with medical conditions.

“If people can donate, the time would be now, because when we have more of an inventory, we can look beyond the medically fragile,” she said.

Parents also turn to online breastfeeding forums to meet their babies’ needs.

Amanda Kastelein, a mother of three from Middlebury, Connecticut, has supplemented the special formula she needs for 10-month-old Emerson, with breast milk from a mother she found on a peer-to-peer Facebook page called Human Milk 4 Human Babies.

Kastelein stopped breastfeeding after getting recurrent infections, but tried to start breastfeeding again in March after the recall of the formula, with little success.

“Emerson is allergic to most of the formulas, so it’s been hard to find something he’s not allergic to,” she said.

Entered Hannah Breton from Naugatuck, Connecticut, who had produced more milk than her 2 1/2 month old son needed. She has given Kastelein about 60 ounces of milk every two weeks. That’s enough to supplement her infant formula and keep Emerson fed.

“She asked a lot of questions – what medication I take, if any, that kind,” Breton said. “So we decided, ‘OK, that’s perfect.’ So she comes by every other week and picks up the milk I’ve saved for her. “

“I feel helpful,” she added. “It’s exciting and rewarding that I can give to a mother who can not find what she’s looking for, and if her son can not take breast milk substitute, I think it’s scary.

Rebecca Heinrich, director of Mothers’ Milk Bank in Colorado, advises those looking for milk that searching for donors on their own can be risky.

“We want to make sure these mothers are as safe as they can be and meet their infants’ needs, so it’s the best way to go to consult with their health care provider about how they meet those needs,” she said.

The shortage is creating difficulties, especially for lower-income families following the recall of formula maker Abbott, which stems from pollution concerns. The recall exhausted many brands covered by WIC, a federal program such as. food stamps serving women, infants and children, although it now allows brand substitutes.

On Friday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack sent a letter to the head of Abbott Laboratories, expressing what he called his “serious concern about the availability of safe breast milk substitutes,” noting that Abbott has breast milk substitute contracts in the federal WIC program. Vilsack asked Abbott to continue a program that offers discounts on alternative products, including formulas for competitive brands, as it had done from month to month. The White House said Friday that Abbott committed to the discounts by the end of August.

The Biden administration said it is working with states to make it easier for WIC recipients to purchase different sizes of formula that their benefits may not currently cover.

Abbott has said that pending Food and Drug Administration approval, it could restart a production site “within two weeks.”

The company would start by producing EleCare, Alimentum and metabolic formulas and then start production of Similac and other formulas. Once production begins, it will take six to eight weeks before the formula is available on the shelves.

On Tuesday, the FDA said it was working with U.S. manufacturers to increase their production and streamline paperwork to allow more imports.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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