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Alcohol and Breastmilk.

September 12, 2016

Tanya Cassidy.  “Herself”.   My better half.  This week she is Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Fellow of the Week.  This week is “Tanya Cassidy Week”.


Find our more about her work here…

He is implementing a research project of her own design called “The MIUMME project”.

The MUIMME project (Milk banking and the Uncertain Interaction between Maternal Milk and Ethanol), explores cultural considerations around the use of donor human milk to feed vulnerable infants. This project is set in the context of the rapid expansion of Donor human milk banks around the world, something which is directly linked to global increases in premature births.

Tanya visits four milk banks in Ireland, England, Scotland and England But As Close To Wales As Possible.  She’s studying whether alcohol factors into breastmilk donation – do donor mothers drink and does it matter if they do?  What are the “dangers” of transmission and what are the larger costs involved with imposing lifestyle restrictions on women who are willing to donate breastmilk?

This is important stuff.  Unlike my footling about in the eighteenth-century, there are actually lives at stake here.  Breastmilk can save lives, specifically the lives of the most vulnerable human beings in the world.  Anxieties about “transmission” are impeding the full implementation of donor milk arrangements that could not only prevent very tiny human beings from picking up infections but might also speed those little people out of Neonatal Intensive Care Units much sooner – thus saving health services a ton of money.

The mothers of premature and low birth weight infants are likely to be the mothers least physically capable of breastfeeding while their children are going to be the babies most in need of breastmilk.  That’s the plain and simple background to donor milk banking.

Sometimes, as they say, it takes a village…

Concerns about transmission may well be overstated – but they need to be seriously addressed if they are ever going to be alleviated.  A detailed, honest, and wide ranging study regarding the lifestyles of donor mothers is a precondition for effective publicising of the donor milk campaign.  By the time this project is over, we’ll know a lot more about the background and experience of milk donation, screening and distribution.  Only a sociologist with medical connections and training in quantitative as well as qualitative methods can do this work.

Only Tanya can.



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