Turkish womens attitudes and views regarding human milk banking

Merve Kadioglu*, Demet Avcialpar and Nevin Hotun Sahin

Objective: Human Milk Banking (HMB), which is improved and supported as an extension of national breastfeeding policies in many countries, is not approved by the majority of the Muslim communities due to the ethical problems, traditional beliefs, and attitudes. The purpose of this study is to identify the attitudes and views of Turkish women who have children regarding Human Milk Banking.\

Methods: This study, which was conducted in the Family Health Centers located in the districts of Istanbul, is populationbased and descriptive design. The participants were 1055 volunteer women who had at least one child. Data were collected through a 32-item questionnaire developed by the researchers in line with the related literature, considering the cultural practices and beliefs. The participants were interviewed with face to face by the researcher in their homes.

Results: Of all the participants, 62.8% had knowledge about the human milk banking project. However, 63.8% of them stated they would not donate their milk to a baby in an intensive care unit while they were breastfeeding their own child. In addition, 78.6% said they would not receive support from a human milk bank for their baby who might be in an intensive care unit or who might not have access to breast milk for some other reason. The most important issue related to human milk banking, as stated by 46.8% of the participants, is that it is inappropriate according to Islamic beliefs (babies are believed to become milk siblings). Hence, 57.2% of the participants think that a human milk banking project would not be approved in Turkey.

Conclusion: In human milk banks to be established in Muslim countries, we need to ensure that the mothers' milk will not be mixed and also develop a model where both donor and recipient can exchange information about each other.