Buying breast milk online? It may be contaminated

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Thanks to the Internet, women who produce an abundant supply of breast milk and those in need of it for their babies have more opportunities than ever to connect. But a first-of-its-kind study finds high levels of harmful bacteria and contamination in breast milk purchased via the Web.
Researchers’ analysis of 100 samples of breast milk bought on a public milk-sharing website found three in four samples contained either high levels of bacterial growth overall or contained disease-causing bacteria, including fecal contamination.
The findings were likely the result of poor hygiene during milk collection, the use of either unclean containers or unsanitary breast milk pump parts, or compromised shipping practices, says epidemiologist Sarah Keim, lead author of the study in November’s Pediatrics, published online today.
Nineteen percent of sellers did not include dry ice or another cooling method when shipping, according to the study.
It is unknown exactly how common purchasing breast milk online is, but a soon-to-be published journal article by Keim found 13,000 postings on U.S. milk sharing websites in 2011.
It is “totally normal” for there to be certain bacteria in human breast milk, says Keim, a principal investigator with the Center for Biobehavioral Health at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Some are “very important and healthy for babies and the development of their immune system and digestive system,” she says.
This study focused on bacteria which “are generally pretty harmless as long as they don’t grow out of control” but have also been associated with illnesses in infants linked to contaminated milk, including staphylococcus and streptococcus, says Keim. It also focused on bacteria associated with disease even at low levels, such as salmonella and E. coli.
Researchers compared the online-purchased breast milk samples to samples of unpasteurized breast milk donated to a non-profit milk bank.
Twelve such banks throughout the U.S. follow strict guidelines set by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America and provide pasteurized milk from carefully screened donors to fragile and premature infants, primarily in hospitals. Pasteurization kills the harmful bacteria before the milk reaches an infant.
In all the samples analyzed, the Web-purchased milk had higher bacteria counts and were more likely to contain disease-related types of bacteria, even though the donated milk from the milk banks had yet to be pasteurized:
— 72% had any detectable gram-negative bacteria, which are associated with bloodstream infections, wound or surgical site infections, meningitis and fecal contamination vs. 35% of milk bank samples
— 63% tested positive for staphylococcus vs. 25% of milk bank samples
— 36% tested positive for streptococcus vs. 4% of milk bank samples
— 3% were contaminated with salmonella vs. none of the milk bank samples.
All of the samples tested negative for HIV, says Keim, but the laboratory analysis to determine “the authenticity” of the breast milk is just beginning, she says, adding: “We’re a little suspicious of some of the milk.”
“This study confirms what people have suspected in terms of online milk purchases,” says Anne Eglash, a family medicine physician with University of Wisconsin Health in Mt. Horeb and a co-founder of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. She was not involved in the new study.
“You don’t know what you’re getting, you don’t know the quality, how honest people are about how old the milk is, and so many other issues. It’s important to realize that this may not be the safest way to get breast milk when you don’t have enough,” she says.
But Eglash, co-medical director of the still-in-development Mother’s Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes, cautions against “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” when it comes to the sharing of raw, unpasteurized human breast milk between lactating women and those who cannot, for medical or other reasons, provide their own milk for their healthy, full-term babies.
“I don’t think the message should be that women should never share milk, but that this behavior of buying it on the Web from someone you don’t know should not happen,” she says. Eglash emphasizes that “you don’t want unpasteurized milk that has various bacteria going to an infant whose immune system is vulnerable,” but says there are safe ways to share human breast milk with healthy infants who are not your own, as well as pasteurize it at home.
The Food and Drug Administration warns against feeding babies breast milk acquired directly from individuals or through the Internet, citing safety concerns; the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages feeding preterm infants human breast milk from unscreened donors.
Keim, author of the new study, says her findings “may not apply to situations where milk is shared among friends or relatives or donated rather than sold. The potential risks of those situations are less well understood.”

source

First of all I feel kind of funny about someone else providing milk for my baby.  I was able to produce my own milk. But I do know some women have trouble producing milk and they do want their child to have the best nutrition that they can, which is breast milk. But with these findings, I hope women will stop buying from these online milk banks.  Find something local and makes sure that you verify how the milk comes from the donor to you. Make sure if you want to give your child the best then, do your homework! It’s important. Just Sayin’

View HMBANA Active Milk Banks in a larger map

Click on a blue place mark or browse the list below for contact information on each milk bank.

ALBERTA

Calgary Mothers’ Milk Bank
103-10333 Southport Rd. S.W.
Calgary, Alberta T2W 3X6
1 (403) 475-6455
Fax 1 (888) 334-4372
www.calgarymothersmilkbank.ca
contact@calgarymothersmilkbank.ca

BRITISH COLUMBIA

British Columbia Women’s Milk Bank
C & W Lactation Services
1U 50- 4450 Oak Street
Vancouver, BC V6H 3N1
Phone (604) 875-2282
FAX 604-875-2871
www.bcwomens.ca
francesjones@shaw.ca

CALIFORNIA

Mothers’ Milk Bank
751 South Bascom Ave
San Jose, CA 95128
Phone (408) 998-4550
Toll Free: 877-375-6645
FAX (408) 297-9208
http://www.sanjosemilkbank.com/
mothersmilkbank@hhs.sccgov.org
mothersmilkbank@hhs.co.santa-clara.ca.us

COLORADO

INDIANA

Indiana Mothers’ Milk Bank, Inc.
4755 Kingsway Drive, Suite 120
Indianapolis, IN 46205
Phone (317) 536-1670
Toll-free 1 (877) 829-7470
FAX (317) 536-1676
www.immb.org
info@immb.org

IOWA

Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa
Department of Food and Nutrition Services
University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
University of Iowa at Liberty Square
119 2nd Street, Suite 400
Coralville, IA 52241
Phone: (319)384-9929
Toll free: (877)891-5347
FAX (319)384-9933
www.uichildrens.org
jean-drulis@uiowa.edu

MICHIGAN

Bronson Mothers’ Milk Bank
601 John Street
Suite N1300
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Phone (269) 341-8849
FAX (269) 341-8918
www.bronsonhealth.com
Duffc@bronsonhg.org

MISSOURI

Heart of America Mothers’ Milk Bank
At Saint Luke’s Hospital
4401 Wornail Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64111
Phone: (816)932-4888
kcmilkbank@saint-lukes.org

NEW ENGLAND

Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast
MMBNE
377 Elliot Street
Newton Upper Fall, MA 02464
Phone: 
617-527-6263
Fax: 
617-527-1005
www.milkbankne.org
info@milkbankne.org

NORTH CAROLINA

WakeMed Mothers’ Milk Bank and Lactation Center
3000 New Bern Ave
Raleigh, NC 27610
Phone (919) 350-8599
FAX (919) 350-8923
www.wakemed.org
Suevans@wakemed.org

OHIO

Oklahoma

Oklahoma Mother’s Milk Bank Inc.
901 N Lincoln Blvd. Suite #330
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
okmilkbank.org
405-297-LOVE

Oregon

Pacific Northwest
Northwest Mothers Milk Bank
417 SW 117th Ave, Ste 105
Portland, OR 97225
T: 503-469-0955
F: 503-469-0962
www.nwmmb.org
info@nwmmb.org

TEXAS

Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin
2911 Medical Arts St. Suite 12
Austin, TX 78705
Phone (512) 494-0800
Toll-free 1 (877) 813-MILK (6455)
FAX (512) 494-0880
www.milkbank.org
info@milkbank.org
Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas
600 West Magnolia Avenue
Ft. Worth, TX 76104
Phone (817) 810-0071
Toll-free 1 (877) 810-0071
FAX (817) 810-0087
www.texasmilkbank.org
info@TexasMilkBank.org

Hyper Smash

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