Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Not just for babies: 9-year-old girl thrives on donated breast milk

Breast milk is not just for babies. In Beaumont, Texas, a 9-year-old girl with genetic disorder thrives on donated breast milk.

Her name is Annabel Shelander. She has a rare condition that keeps her from consuming and digesting food naturally. Every day, she sits on her older sister’s lap, watching “Barney” on an iPad while a nurse funneled breast milk into her stomach.

As unconventional as it might seen now, the feeding process used to be much more painful for the girl, who was fed nutrients through an intravenous line that ends just above her heart.

The solution pumped through the line, called total parenteral nutrition, made Annabel gag and wretch.

That all changed last month when her mom, Cathy Shelander, approached Beaumont Breastfeeding Coalition members about milk donations.

Cathy said she and a friend were talking about Annabel’s condition and they came up with the idea about breast milk.

It wasn’t a totally strange concept for them, because Annabel was prescribed breast milk when she was 3 years old. But it’s different now since she is older.

Cathy said Annabel’s doctors were shocked when she told them that she had decided o feed Annabel donated breast milk because it is not regulated by the FDA.

In the five weeks since Annabel has been taking the donated milk, Cathy said her daughter has seen marked improvement.

The Beaumont Breastfeeding Coalition does not fill requests for donor. The group is more of a network for nursing moms to give and receive support. Some of its members took it up themselves to independently help Annabel.

Cathy said she is cautious when taking the donated milk. She meets with the women ahead of time and make sure she is not taking from their baby.

The girl with genetic disorder may be an extreme case, but breast milk is for sure not only for babies. There is a lot of official support for extended breastfeeding, which means breastfeeding a toddler past age one. UNICEF and WHO have long encouraged breastfeeding for two years and longer, and American Academy of Pediatrics is now on record as encouraging mothers to breastfeed for at least one year and then for as long after as the mother and baby desire.

Breastfeeding to 3 and 4 years of age has been common in much of the world until recently in human history, and it is still common in many societies for toddlers to be breastfed.

When not being disturbed (by unfriendly working environment or incorrect concept, for example), mothers and babies often enjoy breastfeeding a lot, and that is why breastfeeding continue past one year. Why stop an enjoyable relationship? And continued breastfeeding is good for the health and welfare of both the mother and child.

Breast milk has as much value after one year. Breast milk is milk. Even after one year, it still contains protein, fat, and other nutritionally important and appropriate elements which children need. It still contains immunologic factors that help protect the child even if he is 2 or older. In fact, according to Dr. Jack Newman, the Canadian physician specializing in breastfeeding support, some immune factors in breast milk that protect the baby against infection are present in greater amounts in the second year of life than in the first. That is since children older than a year are generally exposed to more infections than young babies. Breast milk still contains special growth factors that help the immune system to mature, and the brain, gut, and other organs to develop.

It has also been shown that children in daycare who are still be breastfed have fewer and less severe infections than the children who are not being breastfed. Mothers, do you have a little one pass one year old but you want to continue breastfeeding? Go ahead. It will only do good to you and your child.

The big baby with "tattoo" and still being breastfed!
This is an Original post for San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition's blog by To-wen Tseng. 

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