[caption id="attachment_68550" align="aligncenter" width="460"] Contaminated Breast Milk Found Online:[/caption]Pediatricians and other doctors have always encouraged new mothers to breast feed their newborns. People who have adopted and mothers who either do not produce enough milk or who have had a mastectomy can not breast feed. When those parents want to breast feed but can not, they look for a place where they can get breast milk. The internet is a place to obtain the breast milk they desire.
There are women who can not breast feed their newborns for some reason. Those women are able to buy breast milk online for as low as $1.50 an ounce. The breast milk sold online is sold or donated by other mothers who are able to breast feed, because they want to help those who can not feed their newborns this way.
There are concerns over donating and selling breast milk online. It is an unregulated marketplace; therefore the breast milk is not tested and not always stored and shipped in a safe manner.
In all the samples analyzed, the Web-purchased milk had higher bacteria counts and were more likely to contain disease-related types of bacteria, even though the donated milk from the milk banks had yet to be pasteurized:
-- 72% had any detectable gram-negative bacteria, which are associated with bloodstream infections, wound or surgical site infections, meningitis and fecal contamination vs. 35% of milk bank samples
-- 63% tested positive for staphylococcus vs. 25% of milk bank samples
-- 36% tested positive for streptococcus vs. 20% of milk bank samples
-- 3% were contaminated with salmonella vs. none of the milk bank samples
With internet sites, "you have very few ways to know for sure what you are getting is really breast milk and that it's safe to feed your baby," said Sarah Keim, lead author of the study in Monday's issue of the journal Pediatrics and a researcher at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
"Because the consequences can be serious, it is not a good idea to obtain breast milk in this way."
In several instances the breast milk from several online places have been found to have high levels of bacteria. Some of the breast milk tested has even been confirmed to have salmonella. The amounts of bacteria and salmonella found in a few contaminated batches were high enough to make a child sick.
Milk Banks In Canada
In Canada, there are human milk banks that screen and pasteurize donated milk for preterm and high-risk infants in Vancouver, Calgary and Ontario. Quebec is also planning a bank, said Dr. Sharon Unger, medical director of the Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank.
"I think that this study highlighted an important issue," Unger said in an email. "There is simply no quality control in purchasing over the internet (particularly a product from the human body)."
Keim says her findings "may not apply to situations where milk is shared among friends or relatives or donated rather than sold. The potential risks of those situations are less well understood."
On The Web:
Breast Milk Donated or Sold Online Is Often Tainted, Study Says