Breast Milk Shortage in the US | Dangers & Tips to Improve.

Breast milk is vital for infants Because of its special and customised composition, which meets the nutritional needs of developing babies. Its ideal ratios of proteins, fats, carbs, vitamins, and minerals support healthy growth and development. Furthermore, essential antibodies and immune-boosting components found in breast milk shield newborns from infections and illnesses, particularly in their delicate early years. 

In addition, breast milk is the most natural and optimal source of nutrition for newborns because of its easy digestion and ability to adjust to the changing needs of the child. Even though breastfeeding has many health benefits, each child’s situation is unique, and when necessary, other feeding options like formula can be explored.

Milk donations to milk banks in the US and Canada have decreased, with some locations reporting a 20% drop. This information was reported by The Guardian. As people return to work, the supply of breast milk from milk banks has decreased, despite a spike in demand for it during the pandemic. Directors of milk banks claim that while they are not yet in a crisis if shortages persist, they will be.

Reasons for the Shortage of Breast Milk

The biggest infant formula manufacturer in the United States was forced to close its doors in February 2022 as a result of bacterial contamination reports at its Michigan plant, which prompted an FDA investigation and recall. According to news reports, by the beginning of May, roughly 40% of formulas were out of stock, with more than half sold out in Texas and five other states.

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In response to the shortage, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released a list of resources along with advice to assist families. For some families with newborns, breast milk banks like Mothers Milk Bank of North Texas may be able to fill in the feeding gaps.

The baby formula manufacturer and the FDA reached an agreement on May 16 to reopen the plant in Michigan; however, it may take up to eight weeks before parents can find products like Similac back on store shelves. As part of the consent decree, Abbott committed to ensuring that its facility complied with all safety regulations and to meet specific FDA benchmarks.

Naturally, the unexpected formula shortage has made breastfeeding more popular as a cost-effective and nutrient-dense option for many families. However, it’s not as simple as flipping a switch to increase your supply or go exclusively to breastfeeding.

Dangers of the Breast Milk Shortage

In the USA, there has been a severe shortage of commercial milk formula since February 2022. The largest infant formula manufacturer in the United States, Abbott Nutrition, had to recall a number of its products due to bacterial contamination, which forced them to close their Michigan plant and cause a shortage.  For the week ending May 8, 2022, the out-of-stock rate for commercial milk formula was 43%, and over half of the infant formula was sold out in six states. Horrible, weeping infants and extreme uncertainty confront desperate parents. Because Abbott Nutrition is the primary provider of commercial milk formula to low-income families in the USA through state benefit programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), socioeconomically vulnerable families are the ones most affected by this crisis. Participants receiving WIC benefits buy about half of the infant formula sold nationwide, so the health and survival of these infants, who are most nutritionally vulnerable, are directly threatened by the shortage.

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Unfavorable results will be more likely to occur for families that depend on formula and cannot afford the higher cost. The rationing formula used by families has resulted in a few deaths and an increase in hospital admissions. Because they haven’t been able to use their WIC vouchers to access the imported formula until recently, WIC families are at risk. Although efforts have been made to permit WIC vouchers to be used for any formula, moms and retailers are still quite confused when it comes to what is actually available at the point of sale. WIC vouchers for formula brands that are not covered by the original contracts cannot be accepted by certain retailers. Numerous infants are at risk of malnutrition, and at least two have already passed away. It is unacceptable that this has occurred in the United States in 2022 and that Black babies from low-income families are still more likely to suffer from malnutrition.

Most Prominent Breast Milk Bank in America

The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA)

HMBANA promotes breastfeeding and human lactation, develops evidence-based best practices, and accredits members to advance the field of nonprofit milk banking and guarantee an ethically sourced and fairly distributed supply of donor human milk.

CHOP Mothers’ Milk Bank

In collaboration with the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), a professional association that establishes the norms and regulations for nonprofit donor milk banking in North America, the CHOP Mothers’ Milk Bank was created.

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Main Hospital houses the milk bank. The on-site process and pasteurisation of donated milk is done.

Hospitalised infants have had access to pasteurised donor human milk since 2006. 

MOTHERS’ MILK BANK

A nonprofit organisation called Mothers’ Milk Bank was established in 1974 with the goal of giving needy infants access to pasteurised donor human milk, or PDHM. Our goal is to make donated breast milk safe and available so that babies can flourish. As a licensed tissue bank in California and Maryland, we are registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and accredited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA).

How You Can Increase Your Breast Milk Supply

The amount of breast milk a woman can make after giving birth depends on a number of factors. Some things she can’t control, but with a little more planning and support from friends and family, she can handle some. 

The best strategy to improve your milk supply is to breastfeed more frequently, especially in the early hours, days, and weeks. Your body will generate adequate milk to meet your baby’s needs.

 

Mother Feeding BabyTry these tips to help you make more milk:

    • Any time your baby seems hungry, breastfeed them. Early on, your baby will eat eight to twelve times in 24 hours. Avoid forcing a strict feeding schedule on your infant. When your baby tells you it’s time to eat, pay attention to their cues.
    • Make sure your baby is latching well.
    • For each feeding, offer both breasts. After your child has finished the first side, offer them the second.
    • With every feeding, empty your breasts. Hand express or pump after feeding to draw out all the milk and signal your body to make more.
    • In the first few weeks, avoid bottles and pacifiers. When you can, nurse your child from your breast.
    • Eat a balanced diet and get lots of sleep.
    • Express or pump your milk. Building your milk supply can be achieved by pumping or expressing milk often in between nursing sessions and consistently when you’re not with your baby.
    • Unwind and give yourself a massage. Before feeding, unwind, cuddle your infant close to your body, and give your breasts a gentle massage to help release milk.
    • Attend to your own needs. Get enough rest, eat healthfully, stay hydrated, and accept assistance from others.

Final Verdict

There have been breast milk and formula shortages in the US but there’s nothing to be worried about. You need to take extra care of your health for the sake of your own and your baby’s health. If you don’t have complications during pregnancy and your doctor has declared you healthy you can breastfeed your baby. Act upon the above tips and your baby’s tummy will be fuller and happier. 

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Written by David
I work daily to make surrogacy available to as many intended parents, surrogate mothers and egg donors around the world as possible.

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