Breast milk purchased online may present risks

Posted at: 10/21/2013 5:44 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Some mothers want to breastfeed their babies, but can’t. One option for them is to buy another mother’s milk, but a new study shows buying breast milk online could have dangerous consequences. Luckily, there is a unique, safe alternative in New Mexico.

When Lindsey Lujan became a new mom to now four and a half months old Nevaeh, she had health problems that kept mom from being able to breastfeed her.

“She couldn't eat for three weeks so I was afraid she wouldn't do it,” Lujan said. But I pumped so even if she couldn't breastfeed, she could at least get the breast milk.”

Lujan pumped more milk than her daughter needed, so she donated the extra to a milk bank at the Dar a Luz Birth Center. She pumped 3000 ounces in two months.

“Sometimes it is time consuming, it can be a pain I'm not gonna lie,” Lujan said. “But I just think about the fact that I can help babies.”

The breast milk bank says help like hers is crucial.

Often, desperate parents go online and buy milk from strangers. A new study shows 74 percent of the milk sold online tested positive for bacteria that can make babies sick, including staph, strep and E. Coli.

But Dar a Luz says the Albuquerque milk bank is different.

“The donors are screened very carefully for risk factors in their life that may make it so they have more likelihood to spread disease,” Registered Nurse and lactation specialist Lauren Oberholser said. “But also once the milk is collected, there's a pasteurization process.”

She says if more women donated milk, like Lujan, there would be more for parents who need it, and fewer risky purchases online.