Purchasing a supply of breast milk is something many new parents feel grateful to be able to do for their newborns. But a new study suggests that parents aren’t always getting what they pay for when it comes to buying breast milk online. Additives like infant formula and cow’s milk are often found in what’s being sold as 100% breast milk.
HealthDay reports about the new study published in the journal Pediatrics that suggests much of the breast milk supply being sold online is not 100% pure human milk and may not be suitable for all babies.
As much as 10% of the samples tested were found to be contaminated with cow’s milk. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics cow’s milk can be harmful to children under the age of 1 due to the fact that their body can’t yet handle the high levels of nutrients in the milk. The protein in cow’s milk can also be hard to digest for infants and there is always the possibility that the baby is allergic to milk.
Kim Updegrove, president of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, explains that when parents purchase breast milk online they are taking a risk. She says, “When you have monetary incentive and you have women who may be desperate or may not know any better, you have a risk of getting something along with the milk you are purchasing.” Updegrove adds, “It is important to applaud parents who want to do what's best for their babies, but to remind them that it's a body fluid, and body fluids can be dangerous.”
Aside from additives like cow’s milk, breast milk purchased online can also contain harmful viruses like hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. The safest way for parents to purchase breast milk is through regulated milk banks that test their milk before selling it, but this supply is usually only available for sick or fragile infants.
Parents who adopt a baby or moms who are unable to breast feed often turn to unregulated online breast milk sellers. Though these parents think they are providing the best for their baby, lead author of the study Sarah Keim warns that buying breast milk from an unregulated source is riskier that feeding a baby infant formula. She says, “Some mothers seem to be willing to go to extremes to get human milk for their baby and avoid feeding formula at all costs, to the extent they are willing to buy milk from an unfamiliar source.”
What do you think of the new study that suggests much of the breast milk sold online is contaminated?
Do you think the FDA should outlaw the practice of selling breast milk from unregulated sources?