selling human milk for infant consumption are gaining in popularity. In the
study, “Microbial Contamination of Human Milk Purchased via the Internet,”
published in the November 2013 issue of Pediatrics (published online Oct. 21),
researchers purchased 102 cross-sectional samples of human milk through a
popular U.S. milk-sharing website. The milk samples were sent to a rented mail
box in Ohio, and later compared with samples of unpasteurized, donated milk
obtained through a milk bank. Seventy-four percent of the Internet milk samples
were colonized with high bacterial counts overall, or had at least some
Gram-negative bacteria; and 64 percent of the Internet samples tested positive
for staphylococcous, compared to 25 percent of the milk bank samples.
Three of the Internet samples were contaminated with Salmonella. The high
overall bacterial growth and frequent contamination with disease-causing
bacteria in the Internet milk reflected poor collection, storage or shipping
practices, according to the study authors. Infants consuming human milk
purchased via the Internet are at risk for negative outcomes, especially
premature infants and those with compromised immune systems. The study authors
recommend lactation support for mothers who want to provide breast milk to
their infants but who have difficulty making enough. Women who have extra milk
should consider donating to a milk bank.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists
and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and
well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more
information, visit www.aap.org.