You know that breastfeeding is best for your new baby, but after giving birth you realize that your body just isn’t producing enough milk. You seek out one of the many internet sites where mothers sell their breast milk. You’re relieved to find a supply to feed your baby. Sadly, the breast milk you receive from a donor mother may not be the healthy source of nutrition you thought.
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics, points out that human milk purchased via the internet may contain high levels of bacteria – not what you want to give your baby. Researchers bought 102 samples of human milk through a popular milk-sharing website and compared them with samples of unpasteurized, donated milk obtained through a milk bank.
According to the study, 74 percent of the internet samples were colonized with high bacterial counts overall, or at least had some Gram-negative bacteria; and 64 percent tested positive for staphylococcous, compared with 25 percent of milk bank samples. Three of the internet samples were contaminated with Salmonella.
It’s likely that poor collection, storage or shipping methods contributed to the high overall bacterial growth. Babies who consume this milk purchased through the internet are at risk for negative outcomes, especially premature babies and those with compromised immune systems.
The study authors recommend lactation support for mothers who want to breastfeed but have difficulty making enough milk. They also recommend women who have extra milk to consider donating to a milk bank, where the milk is tested.
The Food and Drug Administration recommends against feeding your baby breast milk acquired through the internet or an individual. It also recommends to only get human milk from a source where milk donors are screened and other precautions have been taken to ensure the safety of the milk, and only after speaking to your health care provider.