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August 8, 2005 4:43 PM   Subscribe

Prolacta, Human Breast Milk for sale
posted by sourbrew (36 comments total)

 
I hereby volunteer myself as a stud on their breeding facility.
posted by jonmc at 4:44 PM on August 8, 2005


Having visited a couple of smaller dairies in the past, I have some pretty damned funny images in my head right now. Rows and rows of lactating mommas (would they be called moo-mas?) all lowing for the farmer to come and "hook 'em up".

This is a great idea but I could do without the imagery.
posted by fenriq at 4:52 PM on August 8, 2005


A friend of mine once made custard with her breast milk. It was a little bit too sweet.
posted by meehawl at 5:00 PM on August 8, 2005


would they be called moo-mas?

And people say advertising doesn't work. Score one for the dairy council each time someone thinks of cows instead of mammals feeding their young.
posted by Feisty at 5:03 PM on August 8, 2005


Cows are mammals, but good point.
posted by danb at 5:08 PM on August 8, 2005


"would they be called moo-mas?

Feisty : "And people say advertising doesn't work. Score one for the dairy council each time someone thinks of cows instead of mammals feeding their young."

Advertising, or...you know...having visited a number of small dairies in the past. Unless, of course, you interpreted fenriq's post to mean that he'd visited a number of dog and oppossum dairies, but the dairy council convinced him to override those memories with cows.
posted by Bugbread at 5:09 PM on August 8, 2005


(When I think milk, I think whales)
posted by Bugbread at 5:09 PM on August 8, 2005


A friend of mine once made custard with her breast milk.

*curdle*
posted by stbalbach at 5:10 PM on August 8, 2005


But experts said it would put pressure on mothers to sell their milk.

An alternative source of income for low wage mothers.
posted by caddis at 5:11 PM on August 8, 2005


An alternative source of income for low wage mothers.

Or there's always selling plasma. Which, last I checked, was pretty uncontroversial.
posted by transona5 at 5:17 PM on August 8, 2005


Ah. I wasn't clear. : ) Thank you.
But while I'm ranting, "Human Breast Milk" is redundant, Should be Human Milk if compared with Cow Milk, or Breast Milk if compared with Baby Formula. Ideally it'd be Milk, and everything else would be qualified, but that's not too likely. My concern about Prolacta is that because the milk needs to be pasteurized, much of what makes it great is lost. Milk, like blood, is a living substance. Then Pharma will do comparison studies with this and the chasm will narrow.
posted by Feisty at 5:21 PM on August 8, 2005


Just for your curiosity, the word "milk" (as we normally use it, to mean "cow milk") is 牛乳 in Japanese, which translates as "cow milk". And the word 乳, which, as you notice, doesn't have the symbol for cow in it, translates to "human milk". So it looks like your ideal exists, just in other cultures.
posted by Bugbread at 5:25 PM on August 8, 2005


sourbrew - offensive content - mark NSFW and provide a link. It is a funny picture though, just hide it behind a link.
posted by caddis at 5:25 PM on August 8, 2005


And people say advertising doesn't work.

Nobody says that.

Selling milk doesn't seem any different than selling blood, sperm, or eggs (or urine).

It said introducing the profit motive might pressure women and medical institutions to provide milk to a bank regardless of the needs of their own babies.

How is selling breastmilk any different from selling eggs. Ah, there is a child involved with breastmilk. Hmm. I still don't see that as a strong argument against it (stealing food from the mouths of poor children).

I think the "profit motive" should be also extended to organ sales. I've given up on the goodwill of the human race.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:29 PM on August 8, 2005


Advertising, or...you know...having visited a number of small dairies in the past. Unless, of course, you interpreted fenriq's post to mean that he'd visited a number of dog and oppossum dairies, but the dairy council convinced him to override those memories with cows.

No, I'm saying that without the lies pushed forth that cow milk (not speaking of raw milk) is good for humans, we wouldn't have such a demand for it. And most people would associate cows with tipping. Unless the dairies fenriq visited were purely for cheese; then it's all good.
posted by Feisty at 5:32 PM on August 8, 2005


I think the "profit motive" should be also extended to organ sales. I've given up on the goodwill of the human race.

Perhaps. But when I got my drivers liscence, I checked the "organ donor" box automatically. It seemed like the right thing to do. When I showed my newly minted liscence to my high school crew, one of them saw the "donor" decal and said "dude..you can get AIDS that way."

The Algonquin Round Table, these guys were not.
posted by jonmc at 5:32 PM on August 8, 2005


Feisty : "I'm saying that without the lies pushed forth that cow milk (not speaking of raw milk) is good for humans, we wouldn't have such a demand for it. And most people would associate cows with tipping."

Then I'm not sure why you quoted fenriq, then, because his actual comment had little to no bearing on your comment.

Feisty : "And most people would associate cows with tipping."

The British are (perhaps incorrectly) credited with the idea of providing a tip for services rendered to service personnel such as valets and waiters.
posted by Bugbread at 5:36 PM on August 8, 2005


Bitty!
posted by sien at 5:38 PM on August 8, 2005


bugbread, that's good to hear. I believe at one time Japan had decent breastfeeding rates, but as some Western ways are accepted, it has gone down.
posted by Feisty at 5:45 PM on August 8, 2005


Or there's always selling plasma. Which, last I checked, was pretty uncontroversial.

Actually, this company was founded by a bunch of people who left the biopharmaceutical (plasma protein therapeutics) industry to explore this opportunity. A couple of the VPs are former colleagues of mine. There are serious ethical issues to be explored in any industry where you are ostensibly "selling" something that your body produces. There are a lot of altruistic people who gladly donate, but at what point does it become less about volunteerism and more about forcing people to do something uncomfortable/taxing/demeaning in order to make rent? I know that when I managed a plasma donation center in an extremely urban area, there wasn't a ton of altruism out there; people needed to have money for food. When I worked at a plasma donation center in a college town, there was some altruism, but people needed to have money for beer!

If a woman continually nurses, she will continually produce milk. However, her body will deplete resources necessary for her nutrition in order to divert them to the milk. Many women may be sacrificing their health to earn money through donated breast milk. While I am not a doctor, I would at least expect to see a much higher incidence of osteoporosis and other conditions related to calcium deficiency.

I'm not saying that this new industry of fractionated breast milk is entirely problematic. There are certainly countless babies who would benefit from this kind of therapy. I just think that the ethical issues need thorough examination to ensure that we aren't creating a new generation of a slave class of wet nurses.
posted by kamikazegopher at 6:08 PM on August 8, 2005


How is selling breastmilk any different from selling eggs.

The economics just aren't there for eggs. It takes far too many human eggs to make a proper meal, and then how should they be prepared?
posted by caddis at 6:14 PM on August 8, 2005


explore this opportunity

If this is not for profit, then this speak of altruism is nice. However if this is a business venture, it doesn't seem fair that the suppliers/source won't see a dime.
posted by Feisty at 6:33 PM on August 8, 2005


When I was in Form 3 (9th grade), I remember asking my Science teacher why human milk wasn't produced and sold since it's apparently more suited for us. The whole class laughed.

Not sure they'd be laughing now!
posted by divabat at 6:41 PM on August 8, 2005


Why do I feel like the biggest buyer of this product is going to be festishists?
posted by maxsparber at 6:43 PM on August 8, 2005


For about 10 seconds, I thought that it was really cool. Then I saw that all they were doing was processing boring normal human milk.

I thought that maybe they'd gene-tampered cows into giving human milk, or had fooled bacteria into shitting human milk, or something WAY AWESOME like that so I could go get a gallon of Soylent Milk at the local Kroger. Bah.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:44 PM on August 8, 2005


Speaking of Brits:
"Around thirteen years ago, human milk banking was in decline in Britain because of the fear of HIV transmission through breast milk and also because of funding cuts. Several events revived interest in milk banking. In 1987, Dr. Sue Balmer organised a conference on the future of human milk banking and in 1990 Professor Alan Lucas published a study on the beneficial effects of donor breast milk on reducing the incidence of Necrotising Enterocolitis. At a successful milk banking conference in London in 1997, the second such conference, delegates approved the formation of a new Organisation: The United Kingdom Association for Milk Banking (UKAMB).

"Every Drop Counts" appears on the logo of the UKAMB, with a drip symbol. According to Milk Banking News and Views, the Association's newsletter:

"The UKAMB has been established to:

* provide a forum for the exchange of information about milk banking,
* set standards for the practice of milk banking,
* regularly review guidelines for milk banking,
* encourage research into milk banking practices,
* promote milk banking so that more milk donors come forward.

"The UKAMB welcomes membership from interested institutions such as neonatal units and associations with a concern about breastfeeding; individual professionals working in the field of breastfeeding; nonprofessional individuals who have an interest in milk banking; and companies who do not violate the WHO Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes. International memberships can be accepted."

The launch of the new association secured so much media coverage that "the phone never stopped ringing" for days. Hundreds of the calls were from women wanting to donate milk. Sadly, many had to be told that their nearest milk bank was too far away as most of the 13 human milk banks in the United Kingdom are based in neonatal units and serve only that particular unit. Seven of the banks are in London and the southeast part of England, but plans are being made to open milk banks in some other areas of the UK.

Much of the work of collection is done by volunteers, so donors have to be within reasonable traveling distance of the bank. The UKAMB has developed guidelines for donors, who are always volunteers, and has set up a working party including donors to develop a leaflet to recruit additional donors.

Hospitals rarely have "extra" milk to make available to other units, but occasionally some may be spared for a sick baby in another unit. One Mothers' Milk Bank in Birmingham has milk available for sale.

The use of banked human milk in United Kingdom hospitals gives a strong message about the value of human milk and breastfeeding to every mother and member of staff in the hospital. Every drop counts!"

" The milk bank in the San Jose Municipal Hospital opened in October 1994 and serves the city and surrounding area. It has contributed to a fall in infant mortality. About 40 mothers donate milk in any month. This is collected from their homes once a week. The milk is pasteurised (at 62.5 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes) and a culture is left for 48 hours before the milk is used; many of the immunoglobulins in the breast milk remain and provide protection against infection. About 800 liters are processed a year, enough for all premature infants to be cup-fed. When there is enough milk, the infants of mothers infected with HIV receive donated milk instead of infant formula."

http://www.lalecheleague.org/llleaderweb/LV/LVAprMay00p22.html
posted by Feisty at 7:07 PM on August 8, 2005


For about 10 seconds, I thought that it was really cool. Then I saw that all they were doing was processing boring normal human milk.

Well, not quite.

If you infused people who had hemophilia with normal human plasma, they wouldn't do that well. In fact, they would probably die pretty young. However, if you infused them with concentrated Factor VIII, which is quite expensive to extract from raw plasma (and even more expensive to produce from a recombinant protein), they would have a much longer life span. The principles are the same. Some babies who are ill or not thiriving require a more specific protein mix than average babies.
posted by kamikazegopher at 7:23 PM on August 8, 2005


Yeah, yeah, yeah, but it's still just plain old boring-ass natural milk being processed and fractionated and whatnot. There's no MUTANT LACTATING BACTERIA!!!! Or MOOCOWS WITH PENDULOUS HUMAN TITS!!! Where's the love? Where's the playing at creation? Where oh where is the daring to tamper in God's domain? You can tell Futurama was just on, can't you?

So... meh.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:06 PM on August 8, 2005


It takes far too many human eggs to make a proper meal, and then how should they be prepared?

Sunny-side up, of course.

All of them.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:10 PM on August 8, 2005


Feisty hit it on the head -- human milk donating and banking has been going on for quite a while. I know three babies who are currently thriving thanks to donor milk. However, because of the cost of processing, screening and storage, the parents of those babies are paying $3.25 an ounce for it, or upwards of $200 a day for a child who has no other nutrition source. On rare occasion, health insurers will reimburse a family for their out of pocket milk expenses, but only after a lengthy process of proving themselves worthy and only long after the family's money has already been spent.

Only by broadening the scope of milk banking can this invaluable resource become less expensive -- and therefore more available -- and more understood as a means of ensuring that babies most in need are fed the only thing that human babies are meant to eat.
posted by Dreama at 9:23 PM on August 8, 2005


Feisty - My concern about Prolacta is that because the milk needs to be pasteurized...

Aye. One of the (many) good things about maternal lactations is the presence of human immunoglobulins - these supplement the infant's immune system by pointing out what's bad, microscopically and microbiologically speaking..

As one of my profs said, "it's a good thing that babies froth and spittle after nursing oiff a teet..."
posted by PurplePorpoise at 9:49 PM on August 8, 2005


This makes me so unhappy. I only ever had one good idea for a prank web page and it was for an online mail-order Human Dairy that would sell cottage cheese, brie, whipping cream, etc etc. For vegans! Even those who object to the exploitation of bees for honey would have to admit that humans make milk for other humans and can do it by choice... or so the site copy would have read. Right under a picture of a long row of sweatshop workers in breast pumps.

And now my dream is ruined.
posted by damehex at 10:13 PM on August 8, 2005


I should note that I'm a dad of a thirteen month old boy who had breast for six months and then formula and was transitioned off of formula a month ago and now drinks whole milk. He likes to take mouthfuls and let them run down his chin and soak his shirt. Its great fun.

kamikazegopher, I sold plasma a couple of times a long time ago. I don't think I'd do it again. I get your point perfectly and agree that there is a serious potential for enslaved wet nurses. The upside is a stronger and better generation down the line, the downside is selling out part of this one to do it.

Feisty, no worries. I enjoyed your comment and information quite a bit. In regards to the advertising, well, see the front of my comment. Its sort of fresh in experience. Milk is now milky and it comes from a container in the fridge. My boy still likes it even if its not mother's milk.

Milk banking is a good thing. Just knowing about it makes me feel better about the planet. And I really do mean that.
posted by fenriq at 10:45 PM on August 8, 2005


It would probably help if we knew how many women were able to sell in the first place, how much they could or would sell, and what doctor supervision would be in place to ensure that they didn't endanger their own health. Because it requires, for one thing, consuming quite a lot of calories to produce breastmilk. To the point where it may not be profitable, depending on the woman, especially if she must also be producing enough for her own child. For it to be non-dangerous, it also requires avoiding much alcohol and certain drugs, as well as smoking. These things aren't as much of a concern for say, sperm donors.

There is also literature out there that maintains that the type of breast milk a woman produces changes over time, supposedly to keep up with the changing needs of her baby...milk produced for a baby who is closer to weaning age and suckles less often is thinner and less full of fats and nutrients, and thus might not be as useful for certain therapies.

If the women most likely to sell their milk were also those not already in the best of health, due to poverty, a for-profit system seems like it might have limited usefulness.
posted by emjaybee at 7:03 AM on August 9, 2005


If a woman continually nurses, she will continually produce milk. However, her body will deplete resources necessary for her nutrition in order to divert them to the milk. Many women may be sacrificing their health to earn money through donated breast milk. - kamikazegopher

This was the first thing that occurred to me. What system would be put in place to ensure that women were taking care of their own health first? At least with blood donors there's a limit to how often they can donate. Would they put a limit on how much a woman could donate? That doesn't make a lot of sense since some women naturally have a great bounty of milk. And if they're getting their nutritional needs met, there's no problem with a woman producing plenty of milk. But how do you control that?

Before there's any for-profit human milk product created, I'd really like to see more danated milk banks. When I was breastfeeding I had a surplus of milk all the time. I fed my child, pumped a bottle full every day, and I always had more. Each day I put a bottle of my milk in the freezer so I had a good stock to give to whomever was caring for her when I was away for an evening or whatever. But I just never used as much milk as we had stored. Other breastfeeding moms I knew were very envious of that. Periodically we had to throw away quantities of unused milk. And it occurred to me at the time that it was a real waste to pour out litres of breastmilk when there are other moms that can't produce enough milk to feed their child, or there are adopted babies that don't get the opportunity at all. I was wishing for a milk bank in my area. I would have gladly donated to the cause. But the nearest one was a six hour drive away. Not very helpful.

(A thought about a mother's nutitional needs when breastfeeding: It's common knowledge - and the object of a great deal of joking - that women eat a lot during their pregnancy because they're "eating for two". But for some reason we seem to forget that breastfeeding moms are also "eating for two" and that the second person is getting bigger and more active than it ever was in the womb! I found I was even more hungry for the months after giving birth than I was while pregnant. Once you say it, it seems patently obvious, but it seriously didn't occurr to me until it happened. I was surprized. I can only imagine that this would have been more dramatic had I been regularly donating milk and therefore producing even more.)
posted by raedyn at 8:13 AM on August 9, 2005


Lactation requires approximately 500 extra calories per day.

". . .many toddlers resist eating solid foods, and this is more prevalent among breastfed children. Also, many stop eating solids around one year of age. He discussed caloric needs of babies and toddlers and compared some other foods to human milk, based on calorie content. For instance, 100 grams of human milk has about 70 calories. Boiled potato came the closest with 65 calories in 100 grams, apple has 52 calories, and the favorite first food of the German mothers I have known, carrot, has only 27 calories per 100 grams. Dr. Gonzáles says babies have very small stomachs, and that they don't like low-calorie foods."

http://www.lalecheleague.org/NB/NBMayJun01p112.html
posted by Feisty at 12:59 PM on August 9, 2005


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