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Breast milk bought online could contain cow’s milk, bacteria

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A new study is alarming for parents who have turned to online sources to buy breast milk for their babies. Researchers said milk sold online is often cut with other liquids and could contain harmful levels of bacteria.

The study published in the journal ‘Pediatrics’ said at least 10 percent of breast milk purchased online is topped off with cow’s milk or infant formula.

Those are products that many parents are trying to avoid often because their babies are sick, have a milk allergy or do not tolerate formula.

In some samples, researchers also found potentially harmful levels of bacteria and tested positive for a virus called cytomegalovirus. Researchers warn online milk could contain hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

The Milk Bank in Indianapolis, a non-profit milk bank, has strict storing guidelines and screening protocols for donors.

The lead author of the study said it is difficult to know what the mother providing the milk is eating, what diseases she may have or any legal or illegal drug use. That is why regulated non-profit milk banks are strongly recommended.

“You can ensure that our milk supply is safe. It’s been double-tested. Our donors are tested for communicable diseases, just the same as if they were giving blood,” said Carissa Hawkins, Communications Coordinator at The Milk Bank.

Milk from milk banks is typically only available to sick or fragile infants because of limited supplies.

Parents of adopted children or those who can not breast feed are often left looking for other sources, which the study said can be dangerous.

The USDA issued warnings that purchasing human milk online is unsafe but the authors of this study hope government officials will move to outlaw the market completely.

The study authors and The Milk Bank said the best way to find a regulated non-profit milk bank is through the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.