When Hazell Dell mom Tyler Treasure left her 4-month-old baby with staff at her gym, together with precise instructions on what to do if he seemed hungry, she didn’t expect to return to find him guzzling away on an unfamiliar bottle of milk.
Treasure hadn’t brought a bottle for her son, Hunter, and says she told staff to call her if he got fussy, but instead they gave him a bottle of another woman’s breast milk.
When they realized their mistake, they apologized, but Treasure says that’s not enough. She wants her baby — and the woman whose breast milk he drank — to be tested to make sure the tot didn’t end up with drugs or alcohol in his system and to rule out HIV and other infectious diseases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk of transmitting HIV or hepatitis through breast milk is extremely small, and transmission of HIV from single breast milk exposure has never been documented.
The possible exposure to HIV or other infectious diseases should be treated as if an accidental exposure to other bodily fluids had occurred, says CDC. Both mothers involved should be notified, and the one whose expressed breast milk was consumed should take an HIV test and share the results.
The infant’s physician should be notified of the exposure and given as much information as possible about when the milk was expressed and how it was handled before being consumed. Additionally, CDC recommends that the child undergo a baseline test for HIV.
A baby is still vulnerable to bacterial infections and other viruses, so temperature and breathing should be monitored immediately after the consumption of the breast milk.
With all that said, however, the best advice is to not panic. In the U.S., HIV-positive women are advised by the medical community to not breastfeed their babies, and chemicals present in breast milk, combined with time and cold temperatures, act to destroy the HIV present in expressed breast milk.
Obviously there’s an emotional aspect to this story. Many women find the idea of their baby drinking another mother’s breast milk unsettling, upsetting or just plain icky — even more so when it’s a woman they don’t know. But when it comes to the health of the baby, chances are it’s nothing more than an unfortunate mistake.
Before you go, check out our slideshow below: