Calls for breast milk research

THE founder of an international bioscience company hopes to gain information from the Sunshine Coast midwife who has helped treat a gravely ill nine-year-old with breast milk.

Elena Medo, who founded Prolacta Bioscience in America in 2000, to develop “processed human milk for critically ill babies”, read about the midwife in Tuesday's Sunshine Coast Daily while enjoying her first Australian holiday.

Ms Medo had no doubt the breast milk used to treat the young girl contributed towards her improved health.

She hoped to get in touch with the midwife to use her findings to push for more formal research and “proliferate breast milk banking worldwide”.

“There needs to be more research,” she said.

“In the last 15 to 20 years, more and more studies have shown the short and long-term benefits of breast milk for preventing cancer and leukaemia (in babies).

“There have not been official formal clinical trials (in older patients), but lots of (American) doctors have been using human milk on patients having an organ transplant, as it seemed to show a decrease in the rejection rate. It has also been used with HIV-positive kids and to help with the side- effects of chemotherapy.”

Ms Medo initiated a program at Prolacta to help send 3785 litres of donated mother's milk to AIDS orphanages in Africa.

“Studies have shown if babies born to actively infected AIDS mothers have only breast milk for the first months, it halves their risk of infection,” she said.

Ms Medo secured initial funding for Prolacta Bioscience to conduct “viral inactivation studies” in 2001 to 2002.

She also secured additional funding in 2004 to “build the world's first professional processing facility designed specifically for human milk”.

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