As the number of babies born prematurely continues to rise, the list of milk banks has also grown in length, particularly in Europe. But as Europe also tops another league table - that of alcohol consumption per capital - do doctors need to worry about the safety of donated breast milk? An EU-funded researcher plans to find out.
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Research points to the importance of human milk for premature babies, but many of the mothers of these infants experience lactation problems immediately after the birth. Milk banks, which collect, screen, store, process and distribute breast milk provided by donors, play a crucial role in meeting this need.
Clinicians are however concerned that the high levels of alcohol consumption among European women of childbearing age may compromise donations. Using interviews, archival data and ethnographic studies, the EU-funded MUIMME project will examine milk banking, focusing in particular on the issue of trust. ‘Muimme’ is an old Irish word for ‘wet nurse’.
The researcher, Tanya Cassidy, is returning to academia following a maternity/career break. The project is made possible thanks to a Marie Skłodowska-Curie ‘career restart’ grant.