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Safety of Buying Breast Milk Online

by Tania Cowling | April 22nd, 2019 | Infants/Toddlers, Safety

baby eating (400x400)One of the main concerns of a new parent is feeding your baby. For nursing mothers, breastfeeding is convenient and gives your child a high nutrient enriched food along with immunity factors. But, what if you can’t breast feed your infant due to mechanical or medical issues? Should you buy breast milk from online donors? There have been some major health concerns with this practice.

Trending in the news recently has been an issue where mothers were buying what they thought was pure breast milk, only to find out it was mixed with cow’s milk. According to a study in the Journal of Pediatrics ten-percent of breast milk samples contained cow’s milk or formula in it to top off the bottle. Pediatricians recommend to wait until a baby is 12 months or older to introduce whole milk from cows, as it is too high in protein and too low in iron for an infant to digest properly without causing allergic reactions.

Many mothers who are having difficulty nursing flock to websites to buy breast milk for their babies where other mothers are selling their excess supply. But, according to samples taken by researchers, this milk is not always safe.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have warned parents that giving infants human milk from unscreened donors could be harmful. Not only could the milk be mixed with bovine milk like the issue above, but it can be contaminated with high bacteria counts. Some samples have showed fecal contamination from poor hand hygiene where other bacteria may have spoiled the milk from the use of unclean containers and breast pumps. Most of the breast milk sold by individuals or from mother’s forums is not regulated.

And what about donors who are sick with medical issues or women who use illegal drugs or take prescription medications? Is this milk safe? NO! Some samples reviewed during studies contained hidden viruses and donors were not screened for HIV or hepatitis B and C before donation.

Now, hospitals and pediatricians who have babies that need breast milk (where mothers cannot provide it) for major health problems use Milk Banks. Milk Banks pasteurize the milk (breast milk is treated to kill harmful bacteria) and handle it with safety guidelines provided the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. They screen their donors and in most instances this milk is donated, not sold. Mothers need to think twice about surfing the Internet for breast milk to feed their babies; maybe in some instances formula may be safer.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, but only reporting news from studies. Always seek the direct advice from your own doctor when questioning medical advice for yourself or your children.

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