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Hirono Reintroduces Bipartisan Bill to Better Protect Parents Traveling with Breast Milk

Ahead of Mother’s Day, Newly-Reintroduced Bipartisan Bill Would Better Protect Parents Traveling with Breast Milk

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to make it easier for parents to safely embark on air travel with breast milk and breastfeeding supplies, including ice packs. The Bottles and Breastfeeding Equipment Screening (BABES) Enhancement Act, co-led by U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Steve Daines (R-MT), would require the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to clarify and regularly update guidance on handling breast milk, baby formula, and other related nutrition products in consultation with leading maternal health groups. This effort comes in response to recent reports about women being misled by certain Transportation Security Officers about current TSA policy and being forced to either discard the supplies their children need or check them into a bag.

“Families have enough to worry about when traveling, they shouldn’t have to fear being harassed, humiliated, and even put in danger simply for traveling with milk and supplies they need to keep their babies fed,” said Senator Hirono. “By requiring TSA to clarify and regularly update its guidance on handling breast milk and baby formula, the Bottles and Breastfeeding Equipment Screening Enhancement Act will help ensure parents and their young children can travel safely and with peace of mind.”

The Bottles and Breastfeeding Equipment Screening Enhancement Act would help keep breastfeeding parents and their kids safe and healthy while traveling by air. Mishandled breast milk can become contaminated, which puts children at risk. Moreover, parents who lactate typically need to breastfeed or pump once every few hours. Failure to do so can result in a clogged milk duct, or a painful infection called mastitis. The legislation would better protect families by requiring TSA to:

  • Issue guidance promoting the hygienic handling of any breast milk, baby formula or other infant nutrition products, as well as accessories required to preserve these products;
  • Consult with nationally recognized maternal health organizations in establishing and communicating this guidance and
  • Update its guidance every five years to respond to emerging needs of parents and to account for developments in technology.

This legislation would also direct an independent government watchdog to conduct an audit of compliance with TSA screening policies for passengers traveling with breast milk and other infant nutrition products, providing lawmakers with information related to violations of policies.

The BABES Act is endorsed by March of Dimes, the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

The full text of the bill is available here.

Last year, Hirono called on TSA to address inconsistent implementation of the 3-1-1 Liquids Rule Exemption travel policy for breastmilk and formula at airport security checkpoints as well as ensure new moms and their infants can travel safely without fear of harassment.