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Encouraging a Market in Human Milk

35 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2007  

Sarah Waldeck

Seton Hall University - School of Law


This article argues that the American legal regime should encourage a market in human milk - the superior source of infant nutrition. It describes the already-existing milk banking system in the United States and posits that building on this model and compensating women who express milk would increase the number of babies receiving breast milk in at least three ways. First, and most obvious, we can expect the promise of a profit to motivate more women to pump milk for someone else's use. Second, and less apparent, mothers who might otherwise choose to formula-feed their babies may breastfeed if they know it will lead to another source of income; initiating an adequate milk supply would be difficult without actually nursing a child. Third, and least obvious (although arguably most important), the creation of a niche market may help convey the value of human milk and convince women to breastfeed even if they are not interested in making sales. The article looks closely at how compensation would affect the safety of banked milk and explores how breast milk fits into the larger normative debate about whether we should permit individuals to sell their bodily materials.

Keywords: breast feed, human tissue, organ donation, tissue donation, breast milk, milk bank

Suggested Citation

Waldeck, Sarah, Encouraging a Market in Human Milk. Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, Vol. 11, No. 361, 2002; Seton Hall Public Law Research Paper No. 2007-005. Available at SSRN:

Sarah Waldeck (Contact Author)

Seton Hall University - School of Law ( email )

One Newark Center
Newark, NJ 07102-5210
United States

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