Dangers of buying breast milk online
Every mom wants to do the right thing for her newborn, including providing the best nature has to offer for a nutritional head-start—breast milk.
However, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, moms who supplement their breast milk supply by buying online may be doing more harm than good.
Researchers analyzed 101 breast milk samples from a popular online site. Nearly three in four samples were found to be contaminated with bacteria that could cause illness in babies, the study states.
“We were surprised so many samples had such high bacteria counts and even fecal contamination in the milk, most likely from poor hand hygiene. We were also surprised a few samples contained salmonella,” said Dr. Sarah A. Keim, principal investigator with the Center for Biobehavioral Health at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. “Other harmful bacteria may have come from the use of either unclean containers or unsanitary breast milk pump parts.”
Even more alarming is the fact that you don’t know important details about the source of online breast milk, says Dr. Kamala Ghaey, pediatrician at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago.
“Online sources may not be as healthy as it is made is made out to be,” Dr. Ghaey says of the online sales. “After all, breast milk is a body secretion. It does have some inherent risks. Unless you know the source of the breast milk, you definitely should be extremely cautious.”
Dr. Ghaey says that donations received in a hospital setting are through breast milk banks and go through “the same screening that blood goes through.” She said donated breast milk also is tracked in a database, with the health history of the donors closely noted.
“When you buy off the Internet, you don’t have the health history of the donor,” she says. “Some infections and medications can be passed from the donor to the baby through the breast milk. It’s just not safe.”
For mothers who are unable to produce their own breast milk for their baby, Dr. Ghaey encourages the use of breast milk banks, which are primarily located at hospitals and properly screen, store and distribute the milk.
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