Would you feed your child breast milk from others? Many mothers in Thailand have given theirs breast milk from prominent socialite Passavee “Numwan” Payacaboot.
“We have been giving away milk to mothers who don’t have enough to feed their own babies,” Numwan told the website Gossipstar.
She said she had spent about Bt1 million (S$42,000) on her donation campaign, including buying storage bags and about 15 freezers. Many mothers obtained her milk at Filorga, a beauty clinic she owns.
Numwan has been praised for her generosity by netizens and news outlets – and many more mothers have lined up for her milk.
Numwan, who is married to Thai actor Navin “Tar” Yavapolkul, has more than 430,000 followers on Instagram.
“I would like to receive your milk. My niece was prematurely born and weighed only 1,600 grams. Her mother’s milk isn’t nearly enough. Thank you so much,” one woman commented on Numwan’s post.
Professor Yong Poovorawan, paediatric hepatology professor at Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Medicine, however, urged women to think twice before accepting breast milk from others.
Doctors like him worry that unscreened milk could pose a harm to these mothers’ babies, and that Numwan is causing people to misunderstand the real truth.
“Breast milk is like blood or an organ. It can transmit germs and diseases, which is why it needs to be screened before donation. It is really strange that we (Thai people) eulogise a mother who pumps her own milk and gives it away to other mothers. This shows that society is not (medically) literate,” he shared in a Facebook post.
Ruang Lao Jak Rong Mo (Stories from the hospital), a famous medical Facebook page, said: “Sharing your milk publicly makes people think donor milk (that has not been properly screened) is safe. This is totally wrong.”
Related: 4 tips to pump more breast milk
The group also pointed out that Filorga Clinic was an anti-ageing clinic, not a milk bank, and called on the Food and Drug Administration to intervene. Replying to the comments from the doctors, Numwan posted a picture of a baby and said it had been fed by her milk since it was a week old. “She is very healthy and as cute as my son Luca,” she wrote.
Her husband Tar also shared on Instagram that he and his wife would not stop giving away breast milk and even invited other mothers to join their campaign.
“We are planning to collect milk from other mothers. We will match those in need with those with a milk excess. If the (medical) government agency wants to offer support, we are really pleased,” he wrote.
Women in Singapore who want to give their babies breast milk from others can check with KK Human Milk Bank. It was started by the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) in 2017 to help mothers who cannot produce enough milk for their babies, who are often very sick or premature.
These include the eight of 10 sick babies in KKH’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Special Nursery, who are fed formula milk. Breast milk is generally favoured as it contains white blood cells and antibodies to protect against infections and improvement development of brain and sight.
The programme hopes to gather about 375 donors to offer excess milk to supply the needs of 900 babies over three years.
All donor mothers undergo a blood test for diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C infection. They can donate only if they lead healthy lifestyles and do not engage in high-risk activities such as smoking.
If you want to feed your baby breast milk from others, ask yourself how much you trust the source, says Dr Natalie Epton, a specialist paediatrician and neonatologist.
Although considered ideal for babies, breast milk can become contaminated with infections, HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and other viruses. So you might want to check on the donor’s health status before accepting the milk.
Wonder what Numwan might say to that.
(Photos: Instagram/numwanz; 123RF.com)