Monthly Archives: December 2016
Many mothers want nothing more than to breastfeed their babies. In fact, 26.8% of survey respondents said in 2015 that they express breast milk for their infants anywhere from five to 15 times per week. When a biological mom is unable to supply breast milk for her own baby, donor milk is often a great alternative. It provides vital nutrients and helps strengthen the child’s immune system.
However, it can be difficult to secure donor milk through a milk bank, due to high demand or specific qualifications, and so some parents are taking more drastic measures: they’re getting their milk from other mothers they know or even off the internet. Now, doctors are speaking out about the dangers that unscreened breast milk poses for infants.
Typically, donor milk is distributed through milk banks that are run by hospital units. For particularly vulnerable or premature infants, it’s critical they receive milk from these banks. Since breast milk can protect preemies against the onset of serious illnesses, it’s important for these babies to consume natural breast milk instead of formula.
When a mother can’t keep up with the supply of milk her child needs, milk banks can offer a much-needed solution. Chicago’s first milk bank first opened in March of 2016, much to the joy of many frustrated, exhausted mothers and sick babies. But due to the rise in milk bank popularity, mothers aren’t always able to secure donor breast milk. Since this donor milk is usually reserved for at-risk babies, mothers who simply can’t produce breast milk for their otherwise healthy infants are often left in the lurch. While some mothers are turning to their friends for help, others are seeking out breast milk online.
Both options pose a serious danger to infants. Donor milk needs to be pasteurized in order to be safe for consumption. While donor banks screen and pasteurize the milk before distributing it, breast milk obtained from friends or strangers can contain harmful contaminants that can make babies sick.
According to the CDC, one in six Americans becomes ill after consuming contaminated foods or beverages every year. Dr. Steven Abrams of the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin notes that “milk banks are tightly regulated and use one of several well-established and proven methods of pasteurization to remove virtually all risks of transmitting infections.”
Unpasteurized and unscreened donor milk can put babies at risk for bacterial or viral contamination, as well as exposure to drugs, medications, or other potentially harmful substances.
And while it is possible to pasteurize milk using home methods, it’s not recommended. In fact, many physicians consider it to be an unsafe practice. The Holder pasteurization method is complicated to perform correctly — and if it’s done incorrectly, most mothers wouldn’t even know definitively until their child becomes sick.
Getting milk from internet sources poses an even greater risk: not only could it be contaminated, but what you’re getting might not even be breast milk. In fact, Dr. Valerie Flaherman, nursery director at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, says that even formula is preferable to breast milk sourced online.
“Buying milk from the internet and feeding it to babies is hazardous and risks giving the infant an infection, either an infection directly transmitted from an infected donor or an infection that occurs because milk storage conditions were poor.” She pointed out that, at the very least, “formula is prepared and stored according to FDA guidelines and is a much safer choice than casually shared breast milk.”
These concerns have prompted the American Academy of Pediatrics to release an official policy statement on donor milk, advising parents to avoid human milk sharing. While these mothers must all agree that “breast is best,” that adage should not be taken to the extreme for the sake of these vulnerable children.
For the majority of us, a wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event that we’ll want to remember forever. After all, 88% of Americans get married at least once. And while 2.4 million weddings are performed each year nationwide, not every couple recalls every detail from their nuptials. Typically, that’s when having wedding photos and video footage come in handy. But several Chicago area brides are still fighting to gain access to video captured on their special day.
Some of these brides have been waiting years to receive their wedding videos. One bride, Erin Brewer, has only photographs to remember her 2012 wedding. “We want that memory, we want to be able to share it with our friends, our family, and our children when they get older and we can’t,” says Brewer.
Former bride Tara Grall has a similar story. She’s never received the video footage from her 2011 wedding. The same goes for Nikki Novak, as well as 11 other brides.
The reason? One lone videographer.
Each bride hired John Kevin Mohan, of John Kevin Films, to document her wedding. And in each case, the brides have been left frustrated — and without final, edited footage of that day’s celebrations.
Erin Brewer says she paid Mohan $1,225 to film her wedding. While most of the other brides have paid in full as well, none have been given the fully produced Blu-Ray/DVD they were promised. Some do have raw, unedited footage in their possession, but were given this footage only very recently — and only after multiple complaints were launched.
Nikki Novak stated that Mohan “would just give me the same excuses over and over. I’m still encoding, I’m still encoding, and if it wasn’t that, it was the upgrade in software or having to buy new software and then reinstall it.”
Though Mohan was quick to point out that Novak still has a $325 balance due on her payment, he noted that he would forgive this due to the delay. But his excuses seem to have no bounds.
“As soon as I found this problem with the editing, I stopped selling wedding contracts,” he said. “I came out and filmed everyone’s weddings to get them memorialized knowing that eventually I would get this editing problem under control, which I am at this point. The jobs are getting done.”
Mohan blames the delays on technical problems, like the “blue screen of death” he experienced with his computer. He went on to say that “the editing computer I had put together was not up to the task of editing high-definition footage. The program froze, it stalled, it crashed. I ended up having to borrow money from my family. So, I’m getting them done finally, but it is still taking me a long time.”
Mohan has needed more than just financial help from his family. He was forced to file for bankruptcy, and his business has an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau. Complaints on the BBB’s website further illustrate that these incidents are not isolated, and that countless couples have been five years or more for their wedding footage.
While Mohan says he hopes to have the video editing completed before Christmas, these brides are likely skeptical that they’ll ever get access to their wedding footage. Experts advise clients to always have written contracts before agreeing to deals such as these; you can even put in a stipulation that full payment will be delivered upon the video’s receipt.
Approximately 46.3 million households in the U.S. own a dog, but there are still many more dogs and cats left in shelters. One shelter in Chicago houses over 200 dogs and cats, all of which are at risk of being euthanized, according to a South Side Alderman.
Ald. Raymond Lopez argues that hundreds of dogs and cats in shelters are at risk of being euthanized as a result of renovations beginning at the city’s animal shelter. Lopez has repeatedly called for the resignation of shelter executive director Susan Russell.
A small group of protesters joined Lopez on Monday December 5, toting signs with slogans such as “Susan Russel has got to go.”
Animal Care and Control is planning to close two of its pavilions temporarily while renovations are being completed, but Lopez said that the temporary closures could lead to 200 animals being euthanized. In the event that less space becomes available, euthanizing measures could be taken.
Lopez, a devoted pet activist, explained that a number of pets currently at the shelter are on an urgent adoption list, which means they have 24 hours to be adopted or they will face euthanasia. “We are holding this protest to send a clear message that we expect her to find alternate housing for these animals — not kill them,”Lopez said.
Lopez was one of a number of Aldermen who signed an “order” that proposed Chicago become a no-kill city. Their original request was “encouraging” no-kill shelters in Chicago, but the new order has a number of provisions that, if approved, would fundamentally change the way pet shelters operated in Chicago.
“Our goal is to reduce the killing of animals and to improve their care and well-being, and to reduce the costs to the taxpayers,” Lopez said. Despite concerns from Animal Care and Control about the no-kill policy, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has repeatedly expressed support for a no-kill culture in Chicago.
In many ways, Chicago can be considered two separate cities, divided by class. Chicago is home to more than 7,300 restaurants, long spans of beaches, and luxury real estate, but is also one of the deadliest cities in the nation.
Earning the nickname “Chiraq,” the Windy city has seen more than 600 homicides this year. By Labor Day the city had already surpassed its 2015 homicide rate, and this year, it is on track to have its deadliest year on record in the last 20 years if the death toll exceeds 730.
During the month of November, there were 77 murders in Chicago, bringing the total number of homicides to 682. So far, November has been the third most deadly month of 2016.
Chicago’s deadly trend is consistent with that of some other cities in the country. Baltimore is on track to meet 300 homicides for the second year in a row, while Washington, D.C. had 113 homicides by the end of October.
Yet, for the majority of the country, violent crime rates have dropped significantly. In New York City, shootings and homicides were both down through the month of October.
“It is gratifying to see the members of the NYPD reach new crime reduction milestones,” said New York Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill.
Chicago police, on the other hand, have not been as successful. They report that Chicago’s rising homicide rates are largely due to activity in the city’s South and West sides. They also report a sizable number of illegal gun possessions in the area.
Despite strict gun regulations within the city, it is still legal to bring a gun into Chicago from a neighboring state. Data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives shows that this happens pretty regularly. In 2014, 88% of all the gun seizures in Illinois were recovered from Chicago, and roughly 60% of those guns were traced back to other states. From 2010 to 2014, the majority of these guns came from neighboring Indiana.
As the Chicago Police Department struggles with community trust and civil unrest, especially following the 2016 election, the department is still trying to restore peace within the city limits. Law enforcement officials say that they are trying to pull illegal firearms from the streets to combat the growing rates of violence.
In a statement, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said:
“We will not allow the level of violence we’ve seen in some parts of the city to continue and I have laid out a comprehensive plan to build stronger community partnerships, which is crucial to making our streets safer.”
By the end of October, officials say that 7,000 guns have been recovered this year. Within the next two years, Chicago also hopes to hire 970 new officers.