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Bills look to regulate sharing of human milk in Michigan

MICHIGAN (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Michigan may soon be cracking down on the practice of sharing human breast milk, something that currently almost entirely unregulated.

Many moms desperately want to breastfeed, to pass along those vital nutrients to their babies, but simply can't, so they turn to breast milk donors.

Now a series of new bills in Michigan hopes to make the practice safer.

Two and a half year old Zander has been giving his mother, Sarah Osborn, a run for her money since the day he was born.

"When the nurses came in and asked if breastfeeding was going okay, I said great, because I thought it was," said Osborn.

However, it turned out that Zander never latched on, so mom started researching and came across Human Milk for Human Babies, a Facebook page she now uses to donate extra milk from her second child, Annabelle, to another Michigan mom who can't breastfeed.

"It's wonderful just to help each other out in any way you can," said Osborn.

Now, State Representative Erika Geiss has introduced House Bill 4206. She says there were two reasons for the bill's introduction, one the extreme shortage of donor milk at non-profit milk banks like the one at Bronson Hospital and second because of a burgeoning market for human milk, meaning for-profit groups are looking to come in and sell human milk in Michigan.

"This is an especially important issue here in Michigan,' said Rep. Geiss. "We are a state that has not had any standards in place."

The legislation would set statewide standards for milk banks so that moms can know the milk they're feeding their children is safe.

"I think it's fantastic," said Osborn.

Now moms like Osborn are hoping that at the very least it will bring awareness to the topic so more kids can reap the benefits of breastmilk.

The legislation would not set any rules for mom-to-mom sharing websites, it only applies to non-profit and for-profit milk banks.

The bills are slated to go before the Committee on Health Policy in April.

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