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Study shows buying breast milk online is likely to cause illness in infants
Date:10/20/2013

Results from a study led by researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital found more than three-fourths of breast milk samples purchased over the Internet contained bacteria that can cause illness, and frequently exhibited signs of poor collection, storage or shipping practices.

The study, published online today and in the November issue of Pediatrics, is the first to examine the safety of selling breast milk to others over the Internet, a trend that has become more frequent in the past several years. It is unknown exactly how common purchasing breast milk online is, but an earlier study cited 13,000 postings were placed on U.S. milk sharing websites in 2011.

The research team from the Center for Biobehavioral Health at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital purchased breast milk listed for sale on public websites and then analyzed it in the lab. The research was completed in collaboration with Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and The Ohio State University.

"We were surprised so many samples had such high bacterial counts and even fecal contamination in the milk, most likely from poor hand hygiene. We were also surprised a few samples contained salmonella," said Sarah A. Keim, PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Biobehavioral Health. "Other harmful bacteria may have come from the use of either unclean containers or unsanitary breast milk pump parts."

Individuals posted classified ads on websites describing the breast milk they wanted to sell or why they were seeking breast milk. Researchers responded to ads from sellers who did not ask about the infant receiving milk and who did not require a phone call before a transaction was made.

Researchers analyzed 101 samples bought online and compared the findings to 20 samples obtained from a milk bank. In the U.S., twelve non-profit milk banks follow the Human Milk Banking Association of North America guidelines and provide
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Contact: Gina Bericchia
Gina.Bericchia@NationwideChildrens.org
614-355-0495
Nationwide Children's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert  

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Study shows buying breast milk online is likely to cause illness in infants
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