Health

How to donate breast milk to moms in Houston

Human milk can transmit serious illnesses such as syphilis and HIV, so the best way for mothers to donate milk to flood victims in Houston is through a milk bank, according to Naomi Bar-Yam, president of the board of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.

Bar-Yam is worried that best practices may not have been followed in the high-profile case of a Missouri woman who donated nearly 8 gallons of milk to flood victims.

At milk banks, donors are screened, their blood is tested and a doctor has to sign off on the mother’s health. The milk is tested for pathogens, pasteurized and then tested again, Bar-Yam said. While she applauds the sentiment behind the Missouri donation, she recommends that moms who want to donate breast milk contact their nearest milk banks, which can arrange screening and donation.

“Their milk may not make it to Texas, but we are assuring that Texas has the milk that it needs, and if their (milk) doesn’t make it to Texas, (it) will make it to other fragile, premature babies,” Bar-Yam said.

nschoenberg@chicagotribune.com

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