Addict guilty of killing infant with morphine in her breast milk

A former nurse was sentenced Friday to 20 years in a South Carolina prison for killing her 6-week-old daughter with breast milk containing high levels of morphine.

Stephanie Greene, 39, of Campobello was convicted Thursday after a three-week trial. She was given 20 years for homicide by child abuse and a total of 10 years on other charges to run concurrently.

Alexis Catherine Greene died in 2010 when she was only 46 days old. A coroner found potentially fatal morphine levels in her system.

Barry Barnette, a prosecutor, said Greene has 39 charges of obtaining prescription drugs fraudulently…

During his closing statement, Barnette told jurors Greene “knew how to work the system” to obtain prescriptions. He said she did not tell the doctors who prescribed her morphine that she was nursing.

She loved her drugs more than she loved her child,” Barnette said.

Jurors deliberated for less than four hours Thursday before returning a guilty verdict. Greene was jailed immediately.

Greene’s defense attorney made what might have been a compelling plea for accidental death saying there are no documented cases of morphine in a nursing mother killing an infant – morphine being available by prescription for nursing mothers. There may be elements of truth in that defense – something any good defense lawyer knows about.

The fact remains Greene was not just relying on prescribed doses from her good old family doctor. She functioned, as far as I’ve been able to learn, like any junkie accumulating her drugs via phony prescriptions and under false pretenses. As a nurse, she knew doctors needed to know she was nursing – and didn’t say a word.

Read the label – are you drinking brominated vegetable oil?

Sarah Kavanagh and her little brother were looking forward to the bottles of Gatorade they had put in the refrigerator after playing outdoors one hot, humid afternoon last month in Hattiesburg, Miss.

But before she took a sip, Sarah, a dedicated vegetarian, did what she often does and checked the label to make sure no animal products were in the drink. One ingredient, brominated vegetable oil, caught her eye.

“I knew it probably wasn’t from an animal because it had vegetable in the name, but I still wanted to know what it was, so I Googled it,” Ms. Kavanagh said. “A page popped up with a long list of possible side effects, including neurological disorders and altered thyroid hormones. I didn’t expect that.”

She threw the product away and started a petition on Change.org, an online petition platform, that has almost 200,000 signatures. Ms. Kavanagh, 15, hopes her campaign will persuade PepsiCo, Gatorade’s maker, to consider changing the drink’s formulation.

Jeff Dahncke, a spokesman for PepsiCo, noted that brominated vegetable oil had been deemed safe for consumption by federal regulators. “As standard practice, we blah, blah, blah

In fact, about 10 percent of drinks sold in the United States contain brominated vegetable oil, including Mountain Dew, also made by PepsiCo; Powerade, Fanta Orange and Fresca from Coca-Cola; and Squirt and Sunkist Peach Soda, made by the Dr Pepper Snapple Group…

Use of the substance in the United States has been debated for more than three decades, so Ms. Kavanagh’s campaign most likely is quixotic. But the European Union has long banned the substance from foods, requiring use of other ingredients. Japan recently moved to do the same.

“B.V.O. is banned other places in the world, so these companies already have a replacement for it,” Ms. Kavanagh said. “I don’t see why they don’t just make the switch.” To that, companies say the switch would be too costly…

Brominated vegetable oil contains bromine, the element found in brominated flame retardants, used in things like upholstered furniture and children’s products. Research has found brominate flame retardants building up in the body and breast milk, and animal and some human studies have linked them to neurological impairment, reduced fertility, changes in thyroid hormones and puberty at an earlier age…

Its use in foods dates to the 1930s, well before Congress amended the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to add regulation of new food additives to the responsibilities of the Food and Drug Administration. But Congress exempted two groups of additives, those already sanctioned by the F.D.A. or the Department of Agriculture, or those experts deemed “generally recognized as safe.”

The second exemption created what Tom Neltner…calls “the loophole that swallowed the law.” A company can create a new additive, publish safety data about it on its Web site and pay a law firm or consulting firm to vet it to establish it as “generally recognized as safe” — without ever notifying the F.D.A…

RTFA. You’ll love reacting to the history of not testing – and then meagerly testing – and then skipping any follow-up testing on BVO. The sort of “you scratch my back” good old boy relationship enjoyed by corporations producing manufactured food – and the government bodies supposedly in place to provide regulation and oversight.

The growing black market for body parts in Europe

Belgrade, Serbia — Facing grinding poverty, some Europeans are seeking to sell their kidneys, lungs, bone marrow or corneas…This phenomenon is relatively new in Serbia, a nation that has been battered by war and is grappling with the financial crisis that has swept the Continent. The spread of illegal organ sales into Europe, where they are gaining momentum, has been abetted by the Internet, a global shortage of organs for transplants and, in some cases, unscrupulous traffickers ready to exploit the economic misery.

In Spain, Italy, Greece and Russia, advertisements by people peddling organs — as well as hair, sperm and breast milk — have turned up on the Internet, with asking prices for lungs as high as $250,000…

Organ trafficking is a growth industry,” said Jonathan Ratel, a European Union special prosecutor who is leading a case against seven people accused of luring poor victims from Turkey and former communist countries to Kosovo to sell their kidneys with false promises of payments of up to $20,000. “Organized criminal groups are preying upon the vulnerable on both sides of the supply chain: people suffering from chronic poverty, and desperate and wealthy patients who will do anything to survive.”

The main supply countries have traditionally been China, India, Brazil and the Philippines. But experts say Europeans are increasingly vulnerable.

An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 kidneys are illegally sold globally each year, according to Organs Watch, a human rights group in Berkeley, Calif., that tracks the illegal organ trade. The World Health Organization estimates that only 10 percent of global needs for organ transplantation are being met…

RTFA. Anecdotal evidence is offered that puts the lie to officials who say this couldn’t possibly be happening in their nation.

History would agree. There is a market for poor people selling their blood in practically every nation in the world. Why act surprised over newer technology, tidier methods enabling the sale of sought-after, more valuable bits of the human body?

The numbers of poor people ain’t exactly diminishing in Europe – or elsewhere in the Industrial West for that matter.

Donating breast milk for neonatal intensive care


Frozen for storage

Hospitals and other organizations routinely urge people to give blood, bone marrow and even some organs, but Texas Children’s Hospital is launching a different kind of donor program: breast milk.

The Houston pediatric hospital is asking nursing mothers in the area to donate their excess milk, which has proved life-saving for prematurely born babies whose mothers are unable to produce enough to meet the infant’s needs.

“The evidence is overwhelming that these critically ill preemies do best on mother’s milk, the reason we only feed breast milk in our neonatal intensive care unit,” said Nancy Hurst, a Texas Children’s nurse and director of the new donor milk program. “Ideally, they get their own mother’s milk, but donor milk is the next best thing.”

Around the nation, the use of donor breast milk has grown dramatically in recent years. The nation’s nonprofit donor milk banks last year processed and dispensed 1.8 million ounces, up from about 325,000 in 1999. The increased demand has caused the banks to issue urgent appeals for donors.

That demand mostly relates to the nation’s roughly 51,000 very low birth weight babies who survive childbirth every year, babies who weigh 3.3 pounds or less. It would take nearly 9 million ounces of donor milk to provide all those babies what the mothers themselves can’t produce…

Since 2009, Texas Children’s had got its donor milk from the Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin, one of 10 U.S. nonprofit banks, all of which screen the donor mothers’ blood and pasteurize the milk. Texas Children’s will now maintain its own bank, though the pasteurizing will be done at a for-profit plant in California…

In another form, donor milk dates to more than 2,000 years before Christ, when the Code of Hammurabi set forth the qualities for a good wet nurse, women who breast-fed others’ babies. Wet nurses fell out of favor in the developed world around the turn of the 20th century, after researchers found the milk could transfer diseases to newborns. Milk banks emerged not long after.

The appeal of donor breast milk is particularly strong because it’s common for mothers of premature babies to struggle to produce milk…Also, premature infants often arrive at hospitals such as Texas Children’s well before the mother, transferred from remote locations.

All good news AFAIC. Real healthcare for children that need it the most.

I hope they’re not screwing around with too many plastic additives. Natural ain’t bad.

Who’s sillier? Lady Gaga or the Westminster Council?

Pop singer Lady Gaga has threatened to sue a specialist ice cream parlour in London for naming its breast milk ice cream “Baby Gaga,” the shop’s owner said on Wednesday.

Matt O’Connor, founder of The Icecreamists in London’s Covent Garden, said he had received a letter from Lady Gaga’s lawyers informing him that the singer planned to sue him over the name…

O’Connor denied the flamboyant singer — whose meat dress and other strange outfits have promoted her quirky image and delighted her fans — had inspired the name he chose for the dessert made from breast milk blended with Madagascan vanilla pods and lemon zest.

“It’s just the first noise a baby makes — it’s nothing to do with anyone else,” he said, adding that he was working on a response to the letter.

London’s Westminster Council briefly confiscated supplies of “Baby Gaga” ice cream last week on health concerns, but gave it the all-clear on Wednesday…

O’Connor told Reuters he was considering taking legal action against the council for reputational damage.

“They made the damaging assertion that breast milk ice cream isn’t safe,” he said, adding that it was an overreaction to the safest food in the world.

Add a lawyer into any economic or political equation and you can almost be assured of losing touch with reality.

London shop to offer breast milk ice cream


Victoria Hiley

A specialist ice cream parlor plans to serve up breast milk ice cream and says people should think of it as an organic, free-range treat. The breast milk concoction, called the “Baby Gaga,” will be available from Friday at the Icecreamists restaurant in London’s Covent Garden.

Icecreamists founder Matt O’Connor was confident his take on the “miracle of motherhood” and priced at a hefty $23 a serving will go down a treat with the paying public.

The breast milk was provided by mothers who answered an advertisement on online mothers’ forum Mumsnet.

Victoria Hiley, 35, from London was one of 15 women who donated milk to the restaurant after seeing the advert…

What could be more natural than fresh, free-range mother’s milk in an ice cream? And for me it’s a recession beater too — what’s the harm in using my assets for a bit of extra cash,” Hiley said in a statement.

“I tried the product for the first time today — it’s very nice, it really melts in the mouth.”

The Baby Gaga recipe blends breast milk with Madagascan vanilla pods and lemon zest, which is then churned into ice cream.

If this becomes less expensive – and really popular – O’Connor will probably find himself in trouble sooner or later with either politicians or priests. Or both.

Breast milk cheese on the menu?

Take four cups of breast milk, add rennet, salt and yoghurt – yes, four cups of breast milk, according to a recipe created by New York chef and restaurateur Daniel Angerer, who posted his formula for maple caramelized pumpkin encrusted cheese on his blog, and offered “whoever wants to try it is welcome to try it as long as supply lasts”.

Angerer runs the Manhattan restaurant Klee, and the breast milk is supplied by his wife and restaurant co-owner Lori Mason after the couple found they had an excess supply in their freezer intended for their baby daughter Arabella. Angerer explained on his blog:

“My spouse is feeding our baby with breast milk. We are fortunate to have plenty of pumped mommy’s milk on hand and we even freeze a good amount of it – my spouse actually thinks of donating some to an infant milk bank which could help little babies in Haiti and such but for the meantime (the milk bank requires check-ups which takes a little while) our small freezer ran out of space. To throw it out would be like wasting gold…”

Angerer told the Toronto Star that customers at his restaurant have been asking to try the cheese and he has prepared some amuse-bouche – canapé of breast-milk cheese with figs and Hungarian pepper – but that he has no plans to sell it: “That weirds me out,” he said.

Of the two batches he’s made so far, the first tasted salty-sweet and the second was slightly spicy. “It depends on what my wife has eaten. That directs the flavour,” he told the Star…

City authorities have told the restaurant to keep its breast milk cheese away from customers. “The restaurant knows that cheese made from breast milk is not for public consumption, whether sold or given away,” a spokeswoman for the city’s department of health said.

No comment.

RTFA – the recipe is included.