By Patrick Lozada
The first Chinese breast milk bank will be officially opening its doors at the Guangzhou Women and Children’s Medical Center in June. The opening of the clinic comes amidst growing concerns over the safety of infant formula in China prompted by the deaths of several children due to poisoned formula.
Human breast milk banks are already common in the U.S. and Europe, and are used primarily to feed premature infants who need the vital nutrients that only breast milk can safely provide. The Guangzhou hospital’s approach seems similar – provide milk to infants at the hospital in need. The milk at the hospital comes from volunteers who donate to help infants. 30 year old Li Zhiai (pictured above) told a reporter:
“Why do I come here and what motivates me? It’s for the babies. Just for the babies. I learned about sick babies on TV and media reports and I feel pity for them. This is the main reason.”
With donations coming from people Li, this breast milk bank should be 0% controversial, 100% safe, and help a lot of babies.
In reality, time will tell what the model that breast milk banks in China generally will take. While some may just take donations, we can also see another more troubling mass for-profit business model developing that may cause problems for children as well as mothers who are paid to sell their milk. A cursory search on Taobao didn’t turn up any breast milk yet – just the usual guns and drugs.