Experts warn online breast milk may contain cow milk, which for some babies, especially those who are lactose intolerant, can be dangerous. A study on this matter was conducted by a team led by Sarah Keim, a researcher at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. The results were published Monday April 6 in the Pediatrics journal.
The research found that out of the 102 analyzed breast milk samples bought online 10 of them contained at least 10 % cow’s milk. The cow milk comes most likely from cartons or baby formula. Keim warns that cow milk can be “very harmful to babies with allergies or intolerance”.
The researcher conducted a similar study in the past which found that two thirds of the examined breast milk samples were contaminated with bacteria or viruses.
The recent study used samples from various sites like Only The Breast which is the number one breast milk transaction site, Eats on Feets and Human Milk 4 Human Babies. The last two promote the sharing of milk but disapprove sales.
On Only The Breast (OTB) website, breast milk prices range from $ 1 to $ 6 per ounce. Many mothers selling their milk pride themselves in eating only organic food, avoiding drugs, caffeine and alcohol completely and keeping other healthy habits as well. Some mothers even guarantee they have been tested for drugs and infectious diseases such as HIV at milk banks which are profit and non-profit organizations that facilitate the sharing of breast milk to mothers who produce it insufficiently and premature or sick hospitalized babies.
OTB claims that most of the site’s members “are honest, abiding by OTB terms and are simply looking to provide safe milk for babies in need”.
The reason behind the added cow milk is profit. As Keim explains:
“Sellers might have an incentive to try to increase their production. … It could really add up.”
Keim’s study did not include breast milk shared free online. She explains that such milk is dangerous as it hasn’t been tested for contamination.
There are some sites that give out instruction regarding home pasteurization which implies boiling the milk so that the harmful bacteria is destroyed but Keim points out that these methods are less efficient that the procedures used by milk banks.
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