Informal Breast Milk Sharing in a Muslim Country: The Frequency, Practice, Risk Perception, and Risk Reduction Strategies Used by Mothers
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Turkey is the first and only Islamic country which has initiated a process to establish a milk bank. However, the effort was abandoned because of religious concerns. Informal breast milk sharing has become a practical alternative to some. Research Aims: To document the religious concerned views and attitudes toward breast milk sharing and to determine risk reduction strategies of mothers in an Islamic country. Materials and Methods: Participants comprised volunteers from relevant forums or members of social media groups on the Internet. The participants (n = 435) were divided into three groups: those who did not share milk (n = 371), donors (n = 48), and receivers (n = 16). A prepared questionnaire was used for each group as a data collection tool. Results: 14.7% of the participants were experienced in informal milk sharing. Seventy-five percent of the recipients and 85.4% of the donors did not enter into a written agreement. Religious rules on milk sharing were reflected in three ways: asking about the infant's gender, limiting the number of sharing parties to 3, and knowing the identity of the donor or recipient. Of the participants, 77.3% believed that it was necessary to establish a milk bank in Turkey. However, 19.5% of the respondents reported that they would not feed their infant with donor milk because of reasons related to the issue of "milk kinship" in Islam. Conclusions: Informal milk sharing is a reality and risks similar to those stated in the literature are undertaken. Milk sharing is frequently performed independent of religious concerns and commercial purposes, Comprehensive measures to minimize disease transmission are not routinely implemented.
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