The demand is greater than the supply – It has long been known: breast milk is the best food for a baby is. The WHO also recommends breastfeeding fully for the first six months. However, breast milk is also essential for preemies and sick infants if the mother is unable to breastfeed or produces too little milk.
Breast milk banks in Germany
Until the 1970s, breast milk banks were connected to many hospitals in Germany. In the former GDR alone, there were around 60 breastfeeding points in clinics in hospitals in 1989 alone. With the emergence of the HIV in the 1980s, many collection points were closed because the virus is transmitted via breast milk.
According to the European Milk Bank Associaton (EMB), there are currently only 13 children’s hospitals in Germany that have a breast milk bank. Except for Munich, these banks are located exclusively in the new federal states. Due to the high hygienic standards associated with the processing of breast milk, many clinics have become too expensive and above all too expensive for a breast milk bank.
Women cared for with their premature babies or sick babies in the clinic receive the donated milk from foreign mothers free of charge. In the University of Dresden, for example, but mothers from outside can buy breast milk: The cost, however, is very high and are about 50 € per liter. The high cost of the woman’s milk can be justified with the elaborate investigation.
Before the milk is bottled and frozen, it is examined microbiologically for viruses and germs. This is so important because breast milk can transmit diseases such as hepatitis or HIV. Also, potential donors must have regular medical check-ups and pledge not to consume alcohol, nicotine, medications or other addictive substances.
Breast milk banks: safety is a top priority
In principle, every healthy woman can provide her breast milk to a collection point in a clinic. Instead of freezing or shedding excess milk for personal use, premature babies can be fed with the valuable food.
In most cases, a minimum amount of milk is needed, as well as a donor blood test to rule out infectious diseases. What many do not know: The babies of the donors should not be older than four months, because this breast milk in its composition is ideal for premature babies.
However, women who donate their breast milk cannot get rich. For example, in the largest breastmilk bank in the University Hospital in Leipzig, women are paid an expense allowance of 6.82 euros for one liter of breast milk.
In any case, most women who donate their excess milk want to help others and make no profit. In this Leipzig clinic, however, the women’s milk is only reserved for premature babies; outside mothers cannot buy milk for their use.
With caution to enjoy: Private breast milk exchanges on the Internet
As demand in Germany is greater than supply, women are looking for other ways to get breast milk. Social media exchanges, such as Facebook, are a way of private trading. While in the United States, the private sale of breastmilk in online exchanges is booming, in Germany in 2014 the first private breastmilk market was opened by a mother on the internet.
Women can search for breast milk donors in their area via the website, as well as make their offers. The cost of 100 ml of breast milk is between 1 and 8 euros. Some women make their milk in this forum but also free of charge as a donation.
Doctors and midwives, however, see this development of private breast milk banks as very critical due to the existing health risks to the baby. Experts therefore strongly advise mothers against the use of breast milk from private breast milk banks.
- There are currently 13 breast milk banks in Germany
- They provide preemies and ill babies with breast milk
- Preparation and analysis of the milk is expensive
- Strict guidelines for donors
- Demand for breast milk is greater than the supply
- More and more private offers via social networks
- In 2014, the first private breastfeeding market was opened in Germany
- Experts advise against use from private banks: Viruses cannot be detected