Hillcrest lactation consultant Cheryl Coleman, RN joins us on the blog today to talk about recent national reports of contaiminated breast milk sold online.
Human milk is the best milk for infants to receive and of course the primary source should be the baby’s own mother. Milk sharing and wet-nursing are as old as breastfeeding itself, but the Internet has brought this practice to a whole new and often unsafe level. As recent reports are showing buying breast milk from a total stranger is indeed possible and happening.
Breast milk, while never sterile, always contains some bacteria, but when this bacteria is from the baby’s mother it is bacteria and antibodies that are necessary for that baby in that particular environment. As the recent media reports show, when breast milk is purchased from an unknown source there is no knowledge of what drugs – legal or illegal - the pumping woman may be taking, the cleanliness of the pumping environment and supplies, the storage of the milk, and safety of shipping methods. A problem in any one of these areas could lead to a dangerous situation for the baby receiving the milk.
Milk obtained from a Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) accredited milk bank has been through rigorous testing and processing so that you are assured of receiving high quality human milk. However, because supplies of this milk are not usually very high, it is often reserved for infants who are premature or sick in Neonatal Intensive Care Units.
Milk sharing often occurs among good friends and relatives. Any mother considering milk sharing must be aware of the many ways milk can become contaminated, be very comfortable with the source mom and milk, and act with her baby’s best interests and safety in mind.
Yes, human milk is best for human babies, but make sure the milk is safe. Milk obtained from a human milk bank is the next safest milk to moms. For information on human milk banks or to become a donor, you may contact the Oklahoma Mother’s Milk Bank at www.okmilkbank.org or by phone at 405-297-LOVE (5683).