Is breastmilk that easy answer to avert the next formula crisis? UMW's expert explains how it could be in National Geographic

Feb 6, 2023

2 min

Sushma Subramanian

Late last year, America was gripped with a shortage of frightening proportions and potential deadly consequences - baby formula was all but gone from store shelves and near impossible to find.

Parents were panicked, newborns needed to eat and the government became desperate to source, import and distribute the baby formula to nervous mothers and children in need of nutrition.

It's a topic that captured global attention and recently UMW's Sushma Subramanian - a journalist and assistant professor - looked to explain what was happening and how country's like Brazil might have found the natural way to solve this problem.

Here's an excerpt from her piece in National Geographic:

Five days after the early delivery of her baby last month at a municipal hospital, Talita Alves Araújo Lourenço sat in a chair while a nurse helped her express breast milk into a glass jar.

Araújo, 20, had given birth at 32 weeks; she had known early delivery was likely because she had been diagnosed with preeclampsia. At first, her baby could only drink her milk through a tube, but even after developing the strength and coordination to feed from her breast, Araújo was producing too much. The nurse was helping her to empty her breasts so they would feel more comfortable and to donate the extra milk.

“To know that my milk could be saving someone is very important to me,” says Araújo.

While the ongoing formula shortage that began in February 2022 affected families of infants who couldn't find supplies at the store, it also renewed interest in donation of breast milk to milk banks that supply it to hospitals for vulnerable newborns.

Brazil is widely considered the world’s leading example of milk banking because of a program started in the 1980s that combined promotion and training in breastfeeding with donation. The country today runs 228 of the world’s approximately 750 human milk banks. The United States, by comparison, has 28 that are members of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. January 2023, National Geographic Magazine

The rest of the article is attached and is well worth the read.

If you are a journalist looking to speak with Sushma Subramanian about her latest book, then let us help.

Simply click on Sushma’s icon now to arrange a time and interview.

How breast milk banks could avert the next formula crisis (National Geographic)

Sushma Subramanian, associate professor of journalism, published a story in National Geographic on how Brazil has become the world’s leader in breast milk banking, inspiring similar programs in other countries.

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Sushma Subramanian

Sushma Subramanian

Assistant Professor

Subramanian is a journalist whose topics take her to the far reaches of the world.

Print JournalismBloggingJournalismScience Journalism

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