One of our local TV channels is airing a story tonight about the "dangers" of selling and sharing breastmilk. I have been seeing the promos for it constantly since yesterday. They showed a little intro to it this morning. I just KNOW that it is going to infuriate me. I will update once it airs tonight at 11 Pacific. If anyone lives in the Sacramento area and haven't seen the promos, it will be on KCRA 3 at 11.
Here is the text of the story.
Pumping for profit: Mothers sell breast milk online
Updated Feb 14, 2013 10:04 PM
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA)
From collectibles to clothing, there are countless things you can buy on the Internet.
And now, buyers have another option: Human breast milk.
The idea is simple. Mothers post ads on sites such as Craigslist and Only The Breast to sell their surplus breast milk to mothers who cannot produce the milk.
At $1 or $2 an ounce, the milk is roughly half the price that officials charge at registered milk banks.
Other sites, such as Eats on Feets and Milkshare, are platforms for connecting strangers who are donating milk for those who need it.
“There are a lot of moms who can’t produce, so this is their only way to feed kids what God gives you,” said Nina Withers, the administrator for Eats on Feets, who said it is a vital option for many families.
However, experts warn that getting “liquid gold” online comes with big health risks.
“There are so many unknowns with casual sharing (of milk). It’s very dangerous,” said microbiologist Kathleen Slater, with the Santa Clara Public Health Department. “It could be a source of providing an infection to a nursing infant.”
Breast milk is a bodily fluid, like blood, and it can transmit diseases such as HIV, syphilis and hepatitis, in addition to remnants of alcohol and drugs, as well as bacteria.
The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate breast milk because it’s considered a kind of food.
To test whether breast milk purchased online is dangerous, KCRA 3 purchased two samples of milk from Craigslist and shipped it overnight to a lab.
Lab results revealed that both samples contained micrococcus species and staphylococcus species, strains of bacteria that –in the right amount and kind –could make an infant sick, especially one with a weak immune system.
“There’s nobody watching what casual sharers are doing, so if a child gets ill -- there’s no reporting mechanism,” said Pauline Sakamoto, the executive director of Mothers’ Milk Bank.
She said the nonprofit bank screens donors, requires blood tests and pasteurizes the donated milk before sending it to needy infants.
Sakamoto said 3 percent of the moms who go through screening are unaware they carry a virus, and 12 percent of donated milk gets disposed because it isn't safe to feed babies, due to bacteria.
“We don’t want to have moms out of the goodness of their hearts give us their milk and find out the milk made someone sick,” Sakamoto said.
Still, those sharing or selling milk online argue it’s a wholesome trade that helps mothers who can’t produce milk or afford the prices of milk banks.
They believe it’s up to the buyer to research the milk provider.
“You should know your source, their diet and everything about the other mom before you take the milk,” Withers said.