(St. Paul, MN) -- Minnesota's Muslim families will be allowed to use donor breast milk for their babies under a religious ruling signed in Minneapolis yesterday.
The fatwa, or religious decree, makes it okay for mothers to accept donor milk when their babies are in intensive care. Doctors had noted that Muslim mothers had refused to allow their children to have donor breast milk, fearing that doing so would violate their spiritual beliefs. Islamic faith leaders worked with Minnesota health systems over the past few months to reach an acceptable agreement.
"The benefits of pasteurized, donor human breast milk are so significant that all babies babies, particularly pre-term, low birth weight, and ill babies, should be given this milk when their own mother is not available," said Dr. Mohamad Mahad, an Imam from Nuruliman Mosque and the signee of the fatwa.
The concerns over donor milk come milk kinship, a belief in Islamic Faith that states human milk creates kinship between the breastfeeding woman and the biological or non-biological infant. The concerns arise due to milk donations being anonymous, and it would prevent future marriages in the faith between "milk brothers and sisters", according to the National Library of Medicine. This causes concerns for many mothers who are told by medical providers their children need breast milk, but were concerned about their children creating a milk kinship.
The agreement is thought to be the first of its kind in the U.S., with doctors saying it will help reduce infant deaths.