Purchased breast milk raises risk of bacteria

In the past four decades, the number of women in the United States{}who breastfeed newborns has almost quadrupled - from 20 percent to nearly 80 percent.

Breastfeeding, however, is not so easy for some mothers; they may not produce enough milk. Many of these new moms turn to buying and selling breast milk online. There are websites set up just for that purpose.

Researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio tested 101 samples of breast milk purchased online and also tested 20 samples from a breast milk bank. What they discovered raises medical red flags. Seventy-five percent of the samples contained bacteria that could cause pneumonia, blood stream infections, staph, strep, salmonella and more.

Lead researcher Sarah Keim, PhD, said, "Besides bacterial contamination and viruses that could be in the milk, you could be exposing your infant to chemical contaminants, pharmaceuticals, or drugs as well."{}

Hospitals are often clients of milk banks, but screen donors and pasteurize donated milk to kill germs.

This research is published in the journal Pediatrics at