Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Biohazards at Daycare?

Two stories have surfaced recently about moms having problems with their breastfed children in daycare.

In Ohio, a daycare provider demanded an extra $50 a week to feed a baby expressed breastmilk. Robin Neorr of Columbus was told that her breastmilk is a "hazardous body fluid" and therefore had to be handled differently than bottles of formula. The CDC does not list human breast milk as a body fluid requiring special handling precautions and states on its web site that, "Occupational exposure to human breast milk has not been shown to lead to transmission of HIV or HBV infection." The daycare insisted that it had to use a separate refrigerator and bottle warmer for expressed breastmilk and even went so far as to put biohazard stickers on the bottles! As it turns out, Jennifer, over at The Lactivist, found that Ohio's daycare regulations stipulate more precautions be taken with the handling of formula than of breastmilk. For an update on this story and information about contacting the daycare center in question, see The Lactivist.

So, just up the road in Michigan, a mom was told to take her child out of his regular classroom and to the infant room to nurse. In fact, she says when she sat to nurse her son in his classroom, "The lead teacher ran to tell the director, and the other teachers evacuated the children." The scene of children being evacuated from a classroom to avoid seeing a classmate breastfeed would be funny if only it weren't such a sad statement about our culture. For more details on this story, see Breastfeeding 1-2-3.

Both these moms tried to reason with the management of the daycare providers, to no avail. Both are now trying to get laws changed in their states so that other families are not faced with such discrimination in the future. There is an effort to get these stories into the national media, who would like to hear from one or two other moms with similar stories. If you or someone you know has had breastfeeding-related problems at daycare, please contact me.

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