Sales of online breast milk may come to halt as studies reveal harmful levels of bacteria in research samples of donated breast milk.
Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) has set standards with a set criterion, which would have failed as recent online sales of breast milk is deemed as harmful to the public.
Studies found that 74% of online breast milk samples show surprising levels of bacterial counts that can cause pneumonia, meningitis, skin abscess, and septicemia in infants. In some samples, researchers were also surprised to find fecal contamination and dangerous salmonella levels.
Several cases suggest increased risk of sickness from babies depending on purchased breast milk, published research states. Though breast milk sought through milk banks from hospitals, which also charge fees, might be safer as the donors go through a screening process and the milk is also processed to be pasteurized so as to eliminate bacteria such as Staphylococcus, which may introduce many infections to an infant and may be deadly to an infant with a low immune system.
This should raise the question of anonymity on the various sites selling breast milk. Donors could have used drugs that may contaminate the breast milk they choose to donate. Unsavory characters may purposely contaminate breast milk in a society that continues to monitor free Halloween candy. Perhaps the sale of breast milk is one commodity that should not be purchased online as the consequences of a harmful batch could be fatal to an infant.
Studies in Pediatrics show an alarming proportion of online breast milk samples of harmful bacteria as opposed to samples from milk banks:
- Coliform — – 44% of samples of milk sold online versus 25% of human milk samples
- Salmonella sp — – 3% versus 0%
- Staphylococcus sp — – 63% versus 25%
- Streptococcus sp — – 36% versus 20%
Valid concerns of contamination do not completely point to the donor. Studies also found that risk of contamination increases as breast milk is delayed in transit. Delays are common in all transported goods, and as such, goods will spoil, and in the case of breast milk, bacteria increases. Methods of keeping shipped breast milk could keep the milk from going bad; however, 19% of online sales shipped breast milk without cooling methods, which increased bacteria in the shipped milk, making it too harmful for consumption.
Researchers do mention that studies on whether babies are getting sick on internet purchased breast milk is not confirmed; however, the samples obtained are from online sites and have shown high levels of bacteria that, if consumed, may cause an vast array of illnesses in infants. Such a study does show breast milk banks as a much safer alternative that have a higher standard in the process of obtaining human breast milk.
In the disturbing evidence of bacteria of fecal matter, salmonella, and skin abscess, it is probably safe to say that the sale of online breast milk is not a safe alternative to breast milk from a milk bank – the consequences of harmful bacteria in discounted, online breast milk are not worth the risk to an infant.
Written by: Dianna Coudriet