HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) — State lawmakers are considering regulating breast milk donations and the organizations that sell it. They want to ban unsafe practices, which can crop up when breast milk is shared.
“Right now, 95 percent of our level three and level four NICUs are now using human milk because they know of its benefits. It’s important that we begin to regulate,” according to the bill’s sponsor, Republican Representative Donna Oberlander from Clarion County.
The state House of Representatives voted 191-1 on Monday for legislation prohibiting the sale of human milk in Pennsylvania by any entity that isn’t licensed by the state Department of Health.
The lone no vote was Democratic Representative Bill Kortz from Allegheny County. “It’s a well-intentioned bill, and conceptually I am for that bill,” he told KDKA.
Rep. Kortz’s concern sits with the opioid crisis. He said there is no language about testing for opioids in the milk and doesn’t want any infants drinking contaminated milk.
“I obviously want to err on the safe side of this, and I want to make sure that the infants are protected,” he said.
Rep. Oberlander said it will set standards for screening donors and requires licensed milk banks to follow policies and procedures that are set by professional associations or the law.
That includes keeping records of donor and milk screening and how the milk was processed and stored, as well as having a medical advisory committee of health personnel who are experienced in neonatology, nutrition, infectious diseases, biologics manufacturing and blood or tissue banking.
“We want to make sure that our medically fragile infants are getting the absolute best quality of milk that they can receive,” Rep. Oberlander told KDKA from her Harrisburg office.
The bill will now head to the state Senate.