Friday, 24 June 2011

Where is your donor milk going?

I have never been a big fan of Prolacta, the for-profit donor milk company. I see some value in there finally being a profit motive behind marketing and using donor milk; I would like to see human milk-based fortifiers used for preemies, instead of the formula-based ones that are used now, and I can very much support that part of their mission. But the more I see of them, the less and less comfortable I become with their practices.

The things that have made me most uncomfortable about Prolacta are the way they recruit mothers. They have a network of recruiters - hospitals, independent LCs, doctors, etc. - who are encouraged, and sometimes paid, to suggest donating milk to mothers and route it to Prolacta. They also have various "milk banks" who serve, again, as essentially fronts for Prolacta: making the donations appear no different from those to non-profit milk banks, but obscuring the fact that the company will profit off of these donations. When non-profit HMBANA milk banks are in critical need of donations, this routes potential donors away from non-profit banks without giving those donors a chance to honestly assess where they would like their milk to go.

Amy West, at Just West of Crunchy has a great post up about this issue with Prolacta, as well as others. Such as the fact that Prolacta is partnering with Abbott Nutrition (a formula company) to market its products (alongside Abbott's own formulas), and now has an ex-Nestle exec on the board.

I encourage you to read the whole article as well as the comments, where Amy West addresses questions and concerns about her information and clarifies why, exactly, Prolacta's profit on donor milk is an issue. And if you have milk to donate, do your own research so you are clear on where your milk is going, who will receive it, and who, if anyone, will profit from it.