When it comes to the nutritional needs of infants, doctors and experts have always said that “breast is best”. But recently, parents looking to provide breast milk for their children when they themselves cannot, have found that this is not always the case.
Breast milk is being bought and sold online. But a new study cautions parents to beware of tainted breast milk which can contain bacteria and even salmonella. Researchers who bought and tested 101 breast milk samples sold on popular websites found that up to three fourths of the samples contained high amounts of bacteria that could be potentially harmful to infants. Studies found that 64 percent of the breast milk tested from two of the leading websites were contaminated with staph and 36 percent with strep, while three samples showed traces of salmonella.
The study, which was published Monday in the Journal of Pediatrics, concurs with recommendations from the FDA in 2010.
There is simply no way to know what you are getting in breast milk sold online from strangers. Milk could not only have been improperly handled, but may have come from a drug user. In many cases, researchers found that the milk was already partially thawed upon delivery, causing it to begin to spoil.
Studies have found that breast milk protects infants from infections and other ailments and experts have been encouraging parents more than ever recently to choose breast milk in favor of formula. The practice of “milk sharing” then became a viable way to obtain milk from websites offering milk through classified ads. Though some sites charge an average of $1.50 per ounce, others donate the milk to help other parents. There are also milk banks in the United States which provide milk which is required to be screened and pasteurized.
Still, experts caution against the practice of milk sharing even from relatives since unless the milk is screened and found to be safe, taking that risk could lead to illness and the spread of disease and there is no way of guaranteeing that what you are getting is not in fact cow’s milk – proving the Forrest Gump adage yet again: You never know what you’re gonna get. Use caution with that box of chocolates and stay away from online breast milk.