The Breast Milk Debate
- April 2, 2015
- by Melissa Lawrence
Listen up, mamas! How would you feel about making money on the side doing something you have to do every day – pumping breast milk! Yep, that’s right. Hundreds of women are now selling breast milk and making a good chunk of money off of it. As reported recently by the New York Times in an article on the subject, one woman from Miami has already made more than $2,000 freezing and selling excess breast milk. Breastfeeding a baby is one of the most natural things in the world, and how wonderful that babies that cannot obtain breast milk now can. Yet why is the sale of breast milk causing so much debate?
Frozen breast milk has become a multi-million dollar business. Pumped by moms all over the country, frozen milk is coming is flown into what resembles a pharmaceutical factory in California. There, the milk gets concentrated into high-protein products and packaged for premature babies in neonatal ICUs. This cost thousands of dollars a baby. With this booming business, Prolacta Bioscience, who owns the factory, has received $46 million in investments from life science venture capitalists.
Uses for Breast Milk
As the Times reports, breast milk does not only boast countless nutritional benefits for babies. In adults, it could be used to treat intestinal or infectious diseases, such as Crohn’s disease.
Breast Milk Debate
So what’s the issue? Many people are becoming uneasy over the commercialization of and buying breast milk. Some wager that this frozen milk is providing an opportunity for companies to make products that are too expensive for families to afford, thereby leaving less milk available for nonprofit milk banks. Others debate over whether women should be paid for their milk or instead encouraged to donate it voluntarily. If they are paid, the women might be tempted to increase their milk output unsafely, hide health issues which make milk unsafe, mix in water or other milk products to increase volume, or deprive their own babies of their needed amount of milk. Uh oh!
Where is all that milk going?
Right now, the American Association of Pediatrics states that all premature babies should receive breast milk, preferably from their mothers, but if not, through donor breast milk. However, there is not enough donor milk to go around, partly because many women do not know that they can donate or sell excess milk. Some women are turning to direct milk-sharing sites like Eats on Feets or Only the Breast, hoping to receive more money for their breast milk.
Would you sell your breast milk? Let me know in the comments below! I would love to hear what you have to say about the issue.