Desperate Atlanta mothers sharing breast milk -- but is it safe?

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Mothers and children around the country continue to face the on-going supply shortage of infant formula.

Some mothers in metro Atlanta are now turning to other mothers for help, including sharing their milk with families who may need it.

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Channel 2′s Elizabeth Rawlins spoke to local health experts about the unregulated practice and the potential risks associated with donor breast milk.

“I do not recommend it,” says Dr. Hiral Lavania of One Family Pediatrics. “You never know if that milk is safe.”

Health experts say the best way to make sure donated formula is safe is to have it tested for transmittable diseases and pasteurized at a milk bank.

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“We don’t really have any (banks) in Georgia,” said Dr. Lavania. “We are just now starting the process of donating milk to milk banks. We do have some collection places but a lot [of the supply] goes to babies who are in the NICU.”

The Human Milk Banking Association has banks around the country.

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According to www.hmbana.org, the closest banks to Georgia are located in all four neighboring states (TN, FL, SC, AL).

Regardless, families in Georgia are faced with a daunting drive across state lines for pasteurized breast milk or locally driving from store to store in search of formula.

“The safest thing is to find a different formula,” said Dr. Lavania. “Ask your pediatrician about a safe alternative.”

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