Buying breast milk online? Beware
Breast milk purchased from Internet social media sites may contain bacteria such as salmonella, a new study shows.
October 21st, 2013
09:40 AM ET

Buying breast milk online? Beware

Donated breast milk is "liquid gold at our house,” says Stacy Richards, 37.

The liquid gold is for Simeon, Richards' adopted 11-month-old son. He was born with Down syndrome and suffers from chronic lung disease. Richards believes "breast is best" but couldn't breastfeed, so she turned to the next best thing.

Initially, she sought milk on community milk sharing sites, like “Eats on Feets,” and “Human Milk 4 Human Babies,” but didn’t feel comfortable getting milk from strangers. “We didn’t know who those women were. They didn’t have a safety net,” said Richards. Instead, she relied on trusted friends.

Richards had every right to worry, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. The study found milk bought off of the Internet through social media sites was more than twice as likely to be contaminated with infection-causing bacteria and three times more likely to contain salmonella than milk from the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBNA). While only 5% of the HMBNA milk tested positive for herpes viruses, 21% of milk from the Internet contained bacteria and viruses.

HMBNA consists of 16 self-regulated, nonprofit milk banks across North America and has pre-screened donors. The milk banks further pasteurize the milk to ensure its safety.

But HMBNA milk isn’t always available to everyone. Babies that are the neediest, like preemies and those born with special conditions, receive priority, say Kim Updegrove, HMBNA president, “In 2012, our milk banks dispensed 2.5 million ounces of human milk. Three-quarters went to hospitals in every state in the country; the remaining quarter went to outpatients, largely babies from the NICU that were unable to tolerate formula.”

Authors of the study also found that 74% of the milk purchased from the Internet failed to meet HMBNA criteria before pasteurization.

This is of particular concern for pre-term babies, said Dr. Lisa Thebner, a pediatrician in New York City. “They are more vulnerable, their immune systems are more immature, and they can’t fight off infection like full-term babies,” said Thebner, who was not associated with the study.

Sarah Keim, lead author of the study and a researcher at Nationwide Children's Hospital, was surprised by the differences between the 101 samples bought over the Internet and the 20 samples from the HMBNA banks. Shipping, or "the number of days it took to get there," was a significant factor, she said.

In fact, the study found that each additional shipping day resulted in increased bacteria counts. About half of the samples arrived in two days, and 19% of the shipped milk didn’t have any sort of ice pack or cooling agent.

Emma Kwasnica, founder of Human Milk 4 Human Babies, said the study in itself was problematic, because most milk is donated without profit, at a local community level, and rarely is transported for several days to get to a recipient.

Kwasnica did agree that the study showed how “milk is expressed, stored, and transported is important.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the FDA both recommend against using breast milk directly from a donor or the Internet, because of the safety risks.

“The bottom line is, if you are going to get milk from an unknown source, you open that baggie of milk and you have to decide ... given the consequences are pretty serious, I just don’t think it’s worth the risk,” said Keim. Instead, she recommended using milk from a bank, or donating to a bank, knowing that it undergoes additional safety measures.

“We recognize there’s a risk, but we felt the risk outweighed the benefits," Richards said.

If you do consider milk sharing, the FDA says to make sure to:
- consult your pediatrician
- consider the risks
- do not use milk directly sourced from individuals or the Internet
- If you decide to milk share, only use a source that has been screened and take whatever precautions to ensure its safety.

soundoff (1,085 Responses)
  1. Internet Marketing Specialists


    May 25, 2021 at 16:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Video Marketing Companies Near Me


    May 25, 2021 at 18:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Local Marketing Business


    May 25, 2021 at 19:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Internet Marketing Services Near Me


    May 25, 2021 at 19:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Google Marketing Services


    May 25, 2021 at 20:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Social Media Marketing Companies Near Me


    May 25, 2021 at 20:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. rv interior furniture

    It’s hard to find experienced people about this topic, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks


    May 26, 2021 at 04:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. RV Plumbing Los Angeles


    May 26, 2021 at 04:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. brimonidine

    combigan generic brimonidine tartrate ophthalmic

    May 26, 2021 at 05:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. RV Refrigerator Near Me


    May 26, 2021 at 06:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. camper body repair


    May 26, 2021 at 07:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. camper restoration near me


    May 26, 2021 at 08:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. tausAffessy

    where to buy generic cialis online safely https://tadalafilww.com/ cost of cialis buy generic cialis online with mastercard best price usa tadalafil

    May 26, 2021 at 09:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. rv dealers orange county

    Excellent post. I certainly love this site. Stick with it!


    May 26, 2021 at 09:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. SEO Marketing Consultant

    I'm extremely pleased to discover this site. I need to to thank you for your time for this fantastic read!! I definitely liked every little bit of it and I have you saved as a favorite to look at new stuff on your web site.


    May 26, 2021 at 09:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. SEO Marketing Company Near Me


    May 26, 2021 at 10:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Tritreviewifind

    tadalafil cost walmart https://apcalisetadalafil.com/ tadalafil without a doctor prescription tadalafil order online no prescription tadalafil goodrx

    May 26, 2021 at 11:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Soosteemocush

    https://apcalisetadalafil.com/ cialis cost tadalafil price walmart tadalafil dosage best price usa tadalafil

    May 26, 2021 at 17:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. rv furniture near me

    I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Well written!


    May 26, 2021 at 17:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. RV Shades California


    May 26, 2021 at 18:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. RV Blinds Orange County

    This is a topic which is near to my heart... Cheers! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    May 26, 2021 at 20:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. rv upholstery near me


    May 26, 2021 at 21:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. car sound system repair near me

    Next time I read a blog, I hope that it won't fail me just as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, nonetheless I really thought you'd have something useful to say. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something that you could possibly fix if you were not too busy seeking attention.


    May 26, 2021 at 22:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Sprinter Repair Shop Near Me

    Wonderful article! We are linking to this particularly great post on our website. Keep up the good writing.


    May 26, 2021 at 22:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. repair rv toilet


    May 27, 2021 at 05:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Tien Rodda

    I used to be able to find good advice from your blog articles.


    May 27, 2021 at 12:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. مدیر بیمه

    Yes! Finally someone writes about نمایندگی بیمه عمر اصفهان.

    May 27, 2021 at 14:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Forklifts California


    May 27, 2021 at 17:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. RV Toilets California

    Having read this I thought it was rather informative. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this short article together. I once again find myself spending a significant amount of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worth it!


    May 27, 2021 at 18:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Forklift Repair Shop California

    http://radio.cancaonova.com/iframe-loader/?t=Dating Single: No Longer a Mystery – Rádio&ra=&url=http://forkliftswildwestlifttrucks.com/irvine-forklifts

    May 27, 2021 at 20:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Carroll Clear

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a game where you can do anything you want. SL is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these sl articles and blogs


    May 28, 2021 at 02:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. school bus paint job


    May 28, 2021 at 06:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. RV Lighting Near Me

    I really love your website.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you build this site yourself? Please reply back as I’m trying to create my own website and want to know where you got this from or exactly what the theme is named. Appreciate it!


    May 28, 2021 at 06:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Fiberglass Los Angeles

    Hello there, I think your blog could possibly be having web browser compatibility issues. When I look at your site in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in IE, it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Besides that, great blog!


    May 28, 2021 at 08:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Digital Marketing Near Me


    May 28, 2021 at 09:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. shopping xvideos

    This is a topic that's close to my heart... Cheers! Where are your contact details though?


    May 28, 2021 at 09:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. best rv repair near me

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this write-up and also the rest of the website is also really good.


    May 28, 2021 at 10:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. xvideos t


    May 28, 2021 at 16:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. trailer repair near me now

    I enjoy reading a post that will make men and women think. Also, thanks for allowing for me to comment!


    May 29, 2021 at 01:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Lilian Vanzie

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these second life articles and blogs


    May 29, 2021 at 03:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Rv Collision Repair Shop

    I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Well written!


    May 29, 2021 at 09:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Ford Transit Conversion Shop Near Me

    This is a topic which is near to my heart... Many thanks! Where are your contact details though?


    May 29, 2021 at 09:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Truck Upholstery Shop


    May 29, 2021 at 09:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Transport Truck Repair

    An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker who had been doing a little research on this. And he in fact bought me breakfast due to the fact that I discovered it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to discuss this matter here on your web page.


    May 29, 2021 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Social Media Marketing Company

    Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Many thanks, However I am having problems with your RSS. I donít know the reason why I cannot subscribe to it. Is there anyone else getting the same RSS issues? Anyone who knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanx!!


    May 29, 2021 at 16:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Google Marketing Company

    Saved as a favorite, I like your web site!


    May 29, 2021 at 19:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Digital Marketing Company Near Me

    Excellent post. I definitely love this website. Thanks!


    May 29, 2021 at 19:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Box Truck Conversion

    This website was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me. Thanks a lot!


    May 30, 2021 at 01:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Digital Marketing Companies Near Me

    May I simply say what a comfort to discover someone that truly knows what they are discussing over the internet. You definitely know how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people ought to look at this and understand this side of the story. I was surprised you're not more popular because you certainly possess the gift.


    May 30, 2021 at 02:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Gustavo Kachelmeyer

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a game where you can do anything you want. SL is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these sl websites and blogs


    May 30, 2021 at 03:52 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Leave a Reply to Nana Quiver


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.