Online Program

Human Milk Sharing, Selling and Donation: Legal and Ethical Angles

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Elizabeth Brooks, JD, IBCLC, FILCA, Elizabeth C. Brooks, JD, IBCLC (LLC), Wyndmoor, PA
Women have been using each other’s milk since the dawn of time. The 21st century imbues this age-old practice with legal and ethical tensions for the healthcare provider not imagined by our foremothers. Can an IBCLC, healthcare provider (HCP) or breastfeeding support counselor be the “link” between the mother with too much milk in her freezer, and the low-supply parent whose baby doesn’t qualify to receive milk from a non-profit milk bank? How does an HCP counsel a family shaken by the birth of an extremely premature baby, that wants to collect expressed milk from friends and neighbors? Can the HCP be sued if she counsels a mother about milk donation, and the mother unwittingly passes on a pathogen in that milk that harms the baby? The Internet offers a worldwide market for human milk sharing. Is that even legal? Just what regulations are in place for the sharing, donation or sale of human milk?  This session looks at all the risk and liability angles at play here: for the baby, the family, and the healthcare provider.

Learning Areas:

Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Explain the different rationales for regulating human milk as a tissue, fluid, or food. Define at least two health risks associated with sales or donation of human milk. Identify three practice-guiding documents for healthcare workers to use when consulting families about the use of shared/donated human milk.

Keyword(s): Breastfeeding, Ethics

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a lawyer (since 1983) and practicing IBCLC (since 1997) with expertise in criminal and administrative law, professional ethics, and conflicts-of-interest. I have written a text book, and chapters in other texts, about legal and ethical issues for the IBCLC. I am a board-level leader in my international professional association, a national breastfeeding promotion and policy organization, and a continental non-profit donor human milk banking assocation.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
Jones & Bartlett Publishers breastfeeding ethics/law royalties on book sales in this topic area
United States Breastfeeding Committee breastfeeding advocacy Advisory Committee/Board
Human Milk Banking Assn of North America non-profit human milk banking Advisory Committee/Board

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.