Breast milk sold on the internet found to be contaminated

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A new study finds human milk bought and sold on the internet may be contaminated. According to researchers more than 70 percent of breast milk bought through the site, Onlythebreast.com was tainted with high levels of disease-causing bacteria, including germs found in human waste. And, this is a major concern for both health professionals and new mothers.

Jeanie DeLa, CLC, ICCE of Breast Beginnings in Sarasota said disregard for hygiene may be contributing to the rash of contaminated breast milk showing up from internet purchases. "Her breasts may not have been cleaned, the equipment may not have been cleaned, the bottles may not have been cleaned that they use for the pumping."

Mary O'Connor, RN, IBCLC of Sarasota Memorial Hospital agreed and added,

"She has to make sure that that kit is completely clean and dry, also good hand washing."

Lack of regulation and screening makes it easier for unsafe breast milk to infiltrate internet sales sites. Some mothers said O'Connor can donate milk and other mothers can buy milk without there being any safety regulations in place.

A recent study published in the Journal Pediatrics finds poor collection, storage, or shipping practice may play a part in the contamination, but, how safe is sharing breast milk from a friend? DeLa said, "You may not know their medical history, you don't know if they smoke, you don't know if they are on prescription medication."

Other concerns include illegal drugs, bacteria and virus, said O'Connor. And she added that there is safe breast milk to be found. Sarasota Memorial Hospital gets donor milk for eligible NICU babies from the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.

"They screen all the moms, tests the breast milk and also pasteurizes all the milks." Said O'Connor. And if you are planning on breast feeding your baby this is the number one tip, said DeLa. "Get help with breast feeding right from the very beginning." And, here's where to find the help she said, "Attending support groups, and getting assistance right after the birth of the child."

And if this still doesn't work this advise from O'Connor. "If mother cannot provide her own milk, or if she doesn't have the funds to purchase donor milk, she should feed the baby formula."

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