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Health and Medicine

Study reveals risks of breast milk sold online
An Ohio study shows that 75 percent of breast milk sold online is contaminated due to improper storage and shipping

Amy Cooknick
In The Region:

Hospitals and some mothers of newborns are increasingly relying on surrogate breast milk to feed babies.

But WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair reports a new study shows that breast milk purchased online is often contaminated.

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The study by Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus found more than 75 percent of breast milk purchased from public websites contained significant levels of illness-causing bacteria, including salmonella and fecal coliform.

Researchers say bacteria can grow during shipping in milk that’s not handled properly.  Also of concern, is the fact that few sellers provide complete health information on the women supplying the milk.

Liz Maseth is a lactation consultant at Akron Children’s Hospital.  She says breast milk is the best food for babies, but buying it online is risky.

“The potential for infection is something that moms have to take quite to heart.”

Maseth says hospitals typically purchase milk from the state’s milk bank because it’s tested and pasteurized.

“Things that we’re testing for are things such as HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, to make sure there’s no potential for infection for these babies.”

But Maseth says the higher prices at the milk bank and limited availability could be factors in why mothers are going online to purchase breast milk.

The Ohio study examining online breast milk was published in the journal Pediatrics.

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