Buying breast milk online is dangerous and puts babies’ health at risk, warned experts.
The nutritional benefits of breast milk for babies are widely documented, but many new mothers find it difficult or are unable to breastfeed. In addition to social pressure, this pushes some mothers to purchase human breast milk on the internet, a market that has been growing rapidly.
Purchasing human breast milk on the internet can be cheaper than buying from regulated milk banks, where it can cost up to 3-4 dollars per ounce, because sellers can cut corners to save on costs such as pasteurization, testing for disease and contamination, and the appropriate collection, storage and shipping of milk.
Milk should be screened for diseases, such as, hepatitis B and C, HIV and human T cell lymphotropic virus and syphilis, explained the experts.
Previous research has shown that milk purchased online has more bacterial growth due to lack of pasteurization and poor shipping and storage. One study showed that only 9 out of 101 samples did not have bacterial growth.
Other studies have revealed that 25 percent of milk samples were delivered with poor packaging and were no longer frozen, and contamination with drugs and other substances.
Healthcare workers should be offered training on the online market so they can provide good advice and offer safe alternatives to new mothers, especially those who experience problems or are unable to breastfeed, argued the researchers.
The study is published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).