Gov. DeSantis Signed a Bill To Promote the Donation of Breastmilk to Banks – Could It Resolve Baby Formula Shortages?

Toby Hazlewood

However, the law doesn't take effect until July 1

In early April, Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB1770 in state law. The bill allows for state funds to be used to pay for bank services to store and dispense human milk from donors.

The intention behind the bill was that this could then be administered via Medicaid to help infants who are, according to the terms of the bill:

"...medically or physically unable to receive maternal breast milk or to breastfeed or whose mother is medically or physically unable to produce maternal breast milk or breastfeed."

With news emerging on May 19 that the shortages of baby formula in Florida are worsening such that stocks of formula and related products are down by over 40%, some are wondering if the milk banks could be used as an emergency supply of food for babies in the event that shortages worsen?

Florida has a low rate of breastfeeding mothers

Data from the CDC reveals the scale of the state's dependence on baby formula, and demonstrates why the recent shortages of formula are being felt so keenly.

Florida is amongst the 10 worst states for the proportion of mothers who have ever breastfed their babies. Only West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky and Mississippi have lower rates of breastfeeding than Florida. Given such data it helps to explain why many parents with young infants are concerned over how they'll be able to feed their kids in the longer term if supplies of formula don't recover.

Government intervention is needed

Florida's Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo has written to the FDA requesting clarity on the issue, and a congressional enquiry into the matter is underway. However, a recent statement from former commissioner of the FDA - Peter Pitts - suggests that the resumption of normal supplies could take up to 10 weeks.

With further delays ahead, it's no wonder that alternative sources of nutrition are being explored, up to and including the redeployment of donated breastmilk.

The only catch could be that the governor's new law doesn't take effect until July 1 and so it may well take time for supplies to be built up unless the law can be expedited. Time will tell how it plays out.

Would you resort to donated breast milk if supplies of formula were impossible to obtain and it was the only way of feeding your baby? Let me know in the comments section below.

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