Women who purchase breast milk over the internet have “very few ways to know for sure that what they are getting is really breast milk, let alone if it is even safe to feed their infants,” warns Sarah Keim, lead author of a new study conducted by Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH.
According to Keim, she and her colleagues found that 3/4th of more than 100 samples of breast milk bought online were found to have tested positively for high levels of bacteria including salmonella. However, she add that they had no way of knowing whether the contamination came from the donors’ milk or skin, or from pumps used to extract the milk, or even from improper shipping.
“Regardless, the results were pretty scary,” stated Dr. Kenneth Boyer, head of pediatrics at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago (who was not part of the project). “Just image if the donor happened to be a drug user.”
Women who cannot produce their own breast milk also have the option of obtaining supplies through milk banks which also cater to hospitals. Although they may charge more than many of the online stores, they not only screen donors, but also pasteurize the milk to kill any germs.