Most mother’s of my patients start off breast feeding their baby, but some of the mothers of my newborns either cannot breast feed due to medical reasons, or they do not make enough milk to provide adequate nutrition for their baby. In this, case some of them have tried ordering breast milk over the internet. Sounded a bit odd to me, but they assured me you “can buy anything on the internet”. It turns out that breast milk procured from internet sites may not be safe after all.
A study published earlier this week in the journal Pediatrics looked at 101 breast milk samples bought over the internet compared with 20 samples of breast milk procured from a human milk bank. Researchers found that 74% of internet breast milk samples were contaminated with bacteria, including staph and e. coli (a fecal bacteria), as well as with viruses. The internet breast milk samples were not pasteurized and many had been improperly collected, stored and even shipped. Milk that has bacteria and viruses, even breast milk, is not safe and may pass infections on to infants who have immature immune systems.
So, if you are considering buying breast milk for your infant, steer clear of internet sites advertising breast milk for sale. Your best bet is to contact the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. Their donors are screened and follow safety steps for collecting and shipping their milk.
Buying EVERYTHING online seems to be easy and efficient if you are looking for books, clothes and even groceries. But breast milk should not be bought from web sites. If you have any in your refrigerator or freezer, I would throw it out immediately!