Breast is best, as the saying goes. However that does not mean breast milk from just anyone is better than formula for your baby.
Experts have agreed over the years that it is optimal for a mother to breast-feed her infant. But if the mother cannot breast-feed or chooses not to breast-feed, she should think twice about buying breast milk online.
Buying breast milk online is a rather recent, but fast-growing, trend. While there are regulated milk banks which screen breast milk, pasteurize it, collect it and store it in optimal conditions, there are also many unregulated sites which sell breast milk without any monitored protocols.
These unregulated sites tend to be cheaper than the milk banks which average about $3 per ounce, and many new mothers think that they are a valid alternative to baby formula. But a new study says they should think again.
According to an editorial in the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal), there needs to be an urgent call for regulation of those who sell breast milk online. The editorial was based on research concerning mothers who buy breast milk online and feed it to their children.
This multidisciplinary group found that 92 percent of the samples had detectable bacteria growth, probably due to poor storage and shipping methods, and from not being pasteurized.
And since these unregulated breast milk websites do not screen for any diseases, it is not surprising that 21 percent of the samples contained cytomegalovirus, which is a form of the herpes virus.
When mothers buy breast milk online from unregulated websites and feed it to their children, they are opening their children up to a litany of diseases that can be passed through breast milk.
In addition to herpes, HIV, Lyme disease and hepatitis can also be transmitted through drinking breast milk. Also, since the milk is not screened or tested, mothers have no way of knowing when fraud is being committed.
Breast milk can be diluted with soy milk, cow’s milk, or water to increase the volume of breast milk that is being sold.
Body builders have begun buying and drinking breast milk too.