Most experts agree breast milk offers the best nutrition for young babies. But some new mothers who cannot produce their own breast milk turn to the internet to get it, and that could open the door to some problems.
Its nickname is liquid gold. Breast milk is so precious that some over-productive mothers can sell their extra supply -- online -- to other parents. One unidentified buyer has a safety checklist in mind when buying milk from strangers. She says she generally asks what kind of medications they take and if they have any conditions she needs to know about. She also asks what kind of diet they have.
Investigators at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio examined samples of breast milk purchased over the internet, and found a troubling list of extra ingredients. The list included staphylococcus bacteria, streptococcus bacteria, coliform bacteria, which would have bacteria like E. coli, according to Dr. Sarah Keim, with Nationwide Children's Hospital.
Out of 101 samples purchased online, three-quarters were contaminated with potentially dangerous bacteria. The longer the milk took to ship, the more bacteria found in the sample -- even when the samples arrived frozen.
Experts say there is no effective home remedy for killing the bacteria that's multiplied during shipment. They advise women who want to donate their extra supply of breast milk to go to a milk bank. Milk banks pasteurize the milk so it's safe and then give it to babies in need.
Both Cox and Mercy Hospitals in Springfield provide donor human milk to a local milk depot that is affiliated with a breast milk bank in Kansas City. Once a mother has completed the necessary health screening and is approved to donate milk, she can take her milk to the milk depot at the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.