Home Health Shortage of breast milk: a call for donations for premature babies

Shortage of breast milk: a call for donations for premature babies

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Breast milk donations have been in freefall for several months in French maternity wards and neonatology services. Since mid-January, the association of lactariums of France (ADLF) and the association SOS Prémas have been calling on mothers who can make a donation to “save lives”.

Breast milk donations have been falling for months

The number of donations is always very fluctuating, like donating blood. But deficiencies usually only affect certain milk banks, occasionally. The tensions on the stocks seemed to us, this time, much broader”, worries Professor Jean-Charles Picaud, president of the ADLF, in an interview granted to the newspaper The world (source 1).

At the start of the donation campaign, the lactarium in Lyon, where Professor Picaud works, only had 30 liters of stock, where it should have 120. Same situation at the lactarium in Île-de-France: in December 2021, it only distributed 80 liters of milk, far from the usual 800 liters. We cannot meet the demand of all neonatology centers”, notes Professor Picaud.

Stocks are tightly managed and lead times are getting longer. “Where it usually takes two days between the order and the delivery of milk, delays can currently reach eight to ten days“, underlines Dr. Delphine Lamireau, manager of the Bordeaux-Marmande lactarium (source 1). In fact, the centers are forced to distribute the stocks: “When we are ordered 20 liters, we deliver 10, so that everyone may have”, explains the pediatrician to the World.

What is a breast milk donation used for?

Milk donations are for premature newborns and to those suffering from specific pathologiesespecially in the digestive system.

In premature babies (approximately 55,000 births per year in France), breast milk contributes in particular to preventing certain complications such as infections, ulcerative-necrotizing enterocolitis or even retinopathy.

It is a very beneficial product for children, it considerably reduces the risk of complications linked to prematurity, insists Professor Picaud. You could almost think of it as a medicine. Without breast milk, there is a real loss of chances for the baby.

All breastfeeding women can donate their surplus milk at the milk bank closest to their home.

To avoid taking any health risks, a medical interview is organized beforehand.

The staff then provides all the necessary equipment to the donor (breast pump, bottles, etc.).

The association of lactariums of France specifies, on its site, that a small bottle of 100 ml of milk per day for 15 days is sufficient.

Once fired, the milk must then be frozenwhile waiting for a collector to pick it up at the donor’s home.

Before being distributed, it is systematically tested for possible bacteria and pasteurized.

There are some contraindications to breast milk donation:

  • consume tobacco, alcohol, narcotics or certain medications
  • suffer from certain viral infections (such as hepatitis B or C or HIV)
  • received a transfusion or organ donation

are not eligible for breast milk donation.

Note: the fact of having caught Covid-19 does not prevent you from giving your milk.

Each year, French milk banks collect 75,000 liters of milkabout half of which are anonymous donations distributed to babies, whose mothers cannot breastfeed.

To find the lactarium closest to you, go to the Lactariums de France website.

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