Human milk is considered the “gold standard” of optimal nutrition for babies and young children. It provides a range of benefits for a child’s health, growth, immunity and development that carry into adulthood. Human milk’s importance is even more pronounced for infants born prematurely and those with critical illnesses as they face greater complications and health risks.
Michigan has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country. Some cities have infant mortality rates on par with non-industrialized nations.
While human milk can help reduce these rates and substantially improve the health of at-risk infants, some mothers cannot directly provide human milk for their children and require donor milk in order to meet their infants’ nutritional needs. However, there is currently a shortage of donor milk in our state. In 2011, the Surgeon General issued a Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, which included, “identifying and addressing obstacles to greater availability of safe banked donor milk.”
An emergence of non-profit and for-profit milk banks – as well as a growth in informal milk sharing – can be seen across the state as demand for human milk increases. Currently, however, there is little regulation of milk sharing and banking.
State Representative Erika Geiss introduced HB 4206 in February 2015 to help address these critical issues surrounding milk banking. This bill – along with its companion legislation, SB 143, introduced by State Senator David Knezek – will require milk banks, companies and cooperatives to comply with the standards and guidelines set by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA).
Both bills seek to ensure the best possible collecting, processing, storing and distributing practices. The introduced legislation will require for-profit milk banks to:
This legislation does not set guidelines for informal milk sharing or selling.
Watch State Representative Erika Geiss and State Senator David Knezek discuss the bill.
Media coverage of press conference.