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Demand grows for breast milk donations; mothers help because of baby formula shortage

KOMO-TV Seattle logo KOMO-TV Seattle 5/25/2022 Suzanne Phan, KOMO News Reporter
Demand grows for breast milk donations; mothers help because of baby formula shortage
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SEATTLE - The national shortage of baby formula is driving some mothers to step up to help others. 

More women are donating breast milk. People will also be able to find Craiglist ads for breast milk online.

Monse Vazquez, 26, is a new mother.

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Caption: Demand grows for breast milk donations; mothers help because of baby formula shortage

When she was producing more breast milk than she needed for her 7-month-old girl, Vazquez donated it, knowing how many mothers out there are struggling to find baby formula.

“I’d rather donate it than have it go to waste,” said Vazquez.

Vazquez shared a post on the Federal Way Moms Facebook group.

She ended up donating enough milk to help six different babies for two days.

“If I have it, why not share it with those in a tight situation --it could be moneywise or not find their formula. For me, it’s easy to just give it to them,” said Vazquez.

Caption: Demand grows for breast milk donations; mothers help because of baby formula shortage

The Human Milk for Human Babies Facebook group is seeing more donors and more recipients now.

Pediatricians like Dr. Beth Ebel suggest working with Northwest Mother’s Milk Bank.

“They have a very careful screening procedure to make sure the milk supply is going to be safe for babies and they prioritize the babies that really need this most,” said Dr. Beth Ebel, a certified pediatrician with UW Medicine.

Meanwhile, there are online ads on Craiglist for breast milk. There is one in Camano Island, which offers 2 to 5 ounces for $2.

This one in Olympia offers milk for $1 an ounce.

Several moms KOMO News talked to didn’t realize breast milk was sold online.

Lindsay Kotolo and her husband have seen the ads.

“We both couldn’t believe it. Honestly. We couldn’t believe it in this day and age that people are selling their breast milk,” said Kotolo, a mother of a 10-month-old girl.

“I have heard about those ads. I can’t think of anything riskier for your baby,” said Dr. Ebel.

Dr. Ebel says moms should think twice about buying breast milk off Craigslist.

“That is just not the answer. we’ve got to find a different way,” said Dr. Ebel.

The FDA does not recommend buying breast milk on the open market.

It suggests people secure it from approved milk banks.

Locally, the Northwest Mothers Milk Bank has seen a 300 percent increase in donations.

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