In recent years, healthcare providers have advised mothers to favor breast milk — which can protect infants from infections — over artificial baby formula. This advice has led to some unexpected and, frankly, bizarre consequences.
Internet sites like and have begun to sell unregulated breast milk to mothers who are unable to produce their own milk. On Monday, The New York Times published an article that discussed the results of a study on this
unregulated practice.
The results? Breast milk sold online sometimes contains harmful pathogens, including: staff, strep and salmonella. Regulated milk distributed at breast milk banks, on the other hand, was found to be far more sterile.
To donors: we get it, you want to be a good Samaritan; you want to help a mother in need. But there are other, more helpful, ways to donate your breast milk. Remember, breast milk banks exist, and they follow voluntary guidelines set up by the Human Milk Banking Association. Additionally, online sites have one goal: make money. These sites have a vested interest in cutting expenditures while increasing sales. So, they don’t utilize an effective screening process.
To needy mothers: educate yourselves, know that infants are particularly susceptible to harmful diseases and then carefully choose your sources of breast milk. Though less convenient and less cost effective, it is far preferable to seek out the nearest regulated donor location. Your baby’s health is at stake!
Finally, to unregulated online businesses: despite what good intentions you may have, your business venture simply does not have the resources to set up and adhere to an effective and standardized screening process. You are running a huge risk; with lower screening standards, you chance attracting donors who are desperate for money and whose breast milk has already been rejected from regulated banks. And, as The New York Times demonstrated, you have set yourself up for bad press.
We must either become informed citizens who are cognizant of the risks that accompany online breast milk services, or we must call for government action and place regulations on these