To the 55,000 people who buy and sell breast milk on the internet, beware. A recently published study found that about 10 per cent of breast milk purchased online has been cut with cow’s milk.
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that 10 out of the 100 samples tested showed “a level of bovine DNA consistent with human milk mixed with at least 10 per cent fluid cow’s milk”, the Washington Post reported.
Giving cow’s milk to children can activate allergies or lactose intolerance.
The number of people who buy and sell breast milk online has jumped to about 55,000 from 13,000 people in 2013, according to the Centre for Biobehavioral Health at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
The study suggests that a recent effort to highlight the benefits of breastfeeding infants has caused women who can’t produce enough milk to look online for breast milk. This is risky, warns one of the authors of the study, as breast milk from strangers can be contaminated or – apparently – cut with cow’s milk.
The study found that about three-quarters of the online breast milk tested positive for harmful bacteria, including salmonella.
“It’s pretty clear, based on the findings of this and our prior study that looked at infectious disease risks, that obtaining milk for your babies that way is not a safe practice or recommended,” said Sarah Keim, lead researcher at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
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