I’ll Have a Double Breast Milk Latte Please
by Laura Roe Stevens
We know conclusively now that breast milk—while also providing antibodies necessary to fight illness more effectively—also increases IQ. Yup, breastfeeding your baby apparently will make him smarter, according to a study of 14,000 children analyzed from infancy until six and a half years. This McGill University study was the largest randomized study of breastfeeding ever conducted and according to multiple news reports, the half of children who were breastfed scored “significantly” higher in tests conducted by pediatricians and teachers. These tests measured academic performance in reading, writing, mathematics, and other subjects.
So, the question that many of us have is what does this information mean for adults? If your mom didn’t breastfeed you, is there a way to sharpen those synapses by adding breast milk to your diet? You may laugh, but breast milk companies are taking off and I’m sure this latest study will only feed fuel into this budding industry. The LaLa Times made up a story about a fictitious farm called Hooterville Farms. This silly article describes how a laid-off Californian came up with the idea while watching his wife breastfeed their infant. He then hired lactating moms and began creating human breast milk products like YoGoGirls cheese or Bosomberry ice cream. The article itself is worth a read, as I couldn’t stop laughing at this man’s comments, such as: “We use only naturally selected, hormone-free, cultured women with the very best breeding.”
Perhaps the FDA won’t approve the use of lactating women strapped to commercial milking machines to mass-produce human milk yogurt and ice creams in the immediate future, but the fact is breast milk is in demand. There are currently at least ten regulated milk banks in the United States where moms who can’t breastfeed can buy breast milk for their babies. Because of increased demand, many lactating mommies are now selling their mammary wares illegally online. And a life sciences company is currently using human breast milk to make “specialty formulations” and selling these to hospitals for the treatment of premature infants. The fact that it is legally selling a breast milk product may just pave the way for the eventual legal distribution of human breast milk. So while it may sound farfetched now, in the future, you may just be able to order a shot of breast milk with your morning cup of joe.
If you happen to be in the market for breast milk, here’s a list of some sources:
- The Human Milk Banking Association of North America was founded in 1985 to support and regulate donor milk banking. With that said, women who buy from the now ten milk banks across America can expect to spend up to $700 a week for this liquid gold. The benefit from purchasing from a milk bank is that the bank regulates the milk quality and tests donors for viruses. For instance, women who smoke, take medications, or drink more than two ounces of alcohol a day cannot donate. All potential donors must undergo blood tests to rule out those with diseases such as HIV. This ensures peace of mind for those about to drink or give this milk to their babies, as we now know that what you eat and drink directly passes into breast milk.
- Contraband milk-selling sites: If you can’t afford the prices of a regulated milk bank, you may be tempted to buy from a bootleg site. There has been a dramatic increase in these sites as you’ll find with a cursory search on Google or e-Bay. Especially in this economy, it can be tempting to sell additional breast milk which people will pay between $1.50 to $4.00 an ounce for. The risks are obvious, as there is no guarantee that “Sally in Tennessee” is as wholesome as she claims and you may end up feeding yourself—if you’re looking for an IQ boost—or your baby milk tainted with diseases such as HIV or medications, drugs, or alcohol. I did a quick Google search and found quite a few sites or chat-room posts where moms claimed to want to sell their extra breast milk to help others. Just be wary, because if they really wanted to help others, they’d donate their milk to a bank where they would be screened. One mom in a San Francisco chat room told readers she wanted to sell her “organic breast milk” to a mom having trouble breastfeeding and actually lied, saying milk from milk banks are less nutritious. Hmm, I think I’d go for the milk that definitely doesn’t carry the HIV virus, how about you?
- For the adventurous, you may be interested in French breast milk cheese. I found Petit Singly Farms online and while I’m not completely sure it isn’t a hoax, like Hooterville Farms, go check it out and let us know what you think!
Prolacta Bioscience, a small company just outside Los Angeles, conducts research and develops breast milk-based therapies to aid premature and critically ill infants in neonatal intensive care units across the company. It buys breast milk from milk banks and sells specialty formulas to hospitals to aid sick and premature infants. This certainly may pave the way for the commercial availability of breast milk to the public. Prolacta is also affiliated with Milkbanking.net, an organization that collects and provides milk banking information for milk banks and donors with the intention of its use to aid premature infants.