Researchers that investigated the phenomenon of donated breast milk and how parents are choosing to acquire it found that it is being mistakenly regarded as risk free product. The researchers carried out two studies and their first one revealed that out of 655 parents that used donor milk only 36 % got it from official “breast milk banks” which screen all their donations and pasteurize it. Most parents said that they use more informal channels like sharing from a nursing mom that they are familiar with or through someone on the internet. But this practice is being discouraged by American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and also the USFDA due to safety concerns of the child. According to Dr. Lori Feldman-Winter, chairperson of AAP’s section on Breastfeeding, under these circumstances there is risk of dilution and also contamination with virus and bacteria related to donor milk obtained online.
She cautioned that viruses like HIV can also be transmitted through breast milk. She said that though getting breast milk from a family member of friend that parents know well is a low risk situation but that also is not risk free. Dr. Ruth Milanaik of Cohen Children’s Medical Center New York the study author said that this is the point she wanted to convey with this report.
She stated that even when breast milk is given away for free there could be accidental contamination due to temperature instability which may cause the milk to spoil so parents should obtain donor breast milk only from safe milk banks. But doing so may not be very easy as there is only 28 non-profit breast milk banks across USA affiliated to Human Milk Banking Association of North America. Most of this milk goes to feed pre mature babies in hospitals whose mothers cannot feed them their own milk. With informal sharing parents get breast milk for free and websites allow women to also sell their breast milk which then sell it to needy people at a price lower than milk bank.