Here s a new fad to add to the list along with organic food and drinking unpasteurized milk: Mothers who are not able to breastfeed are now starting to accept breast milk donations from other mothers or paying for breast milk obtained from online services. These breast milk donations and purchases the method sounds eerily similar to E-bay are unregulated and may actually be very dangerous for the baby.
Sarah Keim, researcher at the Center for Biobehavioral Health at Nationwide Children s Hospital and colleagues, collected samples of the purchased milk and compared them with 20 unpasteurized breast milk samples from screened donors from the OhioHealth Mothers Milk Bank of Ohio. They found that about one-third of the purchased-milk samples were contaminated with bacteria and five percent tested positive for a respiratory virus. What about the samples from the milk bank? Twenty-five percent of those samples contained no detectable bacteria, compared with 9 percent of the samples from milk-sharing sites. Researchers also reported that the website-purchased milk samples were delivered in a variety of ways that made these samples look even more questionable some were warm, some were leaking and some were delivered in used formula bottles.
On the other hand, breast milk from milk banks is pasteurized to remove contaminants and donor-mothers are screened for communicable infections such as HIV, hepatitis and syphilis. Furthermore, the mothers who donate are screened extensively through medical histories and documentation from their doctors. The majority of the milk received through milk banks is used for premature babies in neonatal intensive care, and can only be obtained via prescription.
The FDA recommends against using breast milk purchased online, and is considering implementing regulations. And researchers are advising women who provide the milk that they may be posing dangers to themselves by engaging in this practice. In those mothers who are pumping beyond what is normal, We don t know what overpumping ¦does to them. There may be bone loss or nutritional issues for them, says Dr. Sheela R. Geraghty, medical director of Cincinnati Children s Center for Breastfeeding Medicine and study co-author.
ACSH s Ariel Savransky adds, There is a lot of pressure on new mothers to breastfeed and the practice of purchasing milk does seem to be on the rise lately. However, this practice is really just asking for trouble, as the milk is unregulated, unpasteurized and can be contaminated with infectious agents, both bacterial and viral, that are extremely dangerous for newborn babies. If a woman is going to engage in this practice, it s important that it is done safely and through the use of a milk bank.