Parents take note! Breast milk sold online may be contaminated with cow’s milk or infant formula, putting babies at the risk of allergy and infectious disease, a new US study has found.
The study on the safety of human breast milk bought over the Internet found that 10 per cent of samples contained added cow’s milk.
The discovery that purchased samples of human milk may be purposely “topped off” with cow’s milk or infant formula confirms a danger for the large number of babies receiving the purchased milk due to medical conditions, researchers said.
These babies are also vulnerable to the risk of infectious disease from bacterial and viral contamination of such milk, which was identified in a prior study by the same research team led by Nationwide Children’s Hospital in US.
“We found that one in every 10 samples of breast milk purchased over the Internet had significant amounts of cow’s milk added, and this poses a risk to infants with an allergy or intolerance to cow’s milk,” said Sarah A Keim, principal investigator in the Centre for Biobehavioural Health in The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s.
“If a baby with cow’s milk allergy were to drink this milk, it could be very harmful,” said Keim, lead author on the study.
The study is the first to document that milk purchased online is frequently adulterated with intentionally added ingredients.
“Cow’s milk and infant formula resemble human milk and could potentially be added to boost volumes without the recipient knowing.
“Mothers who consider purchasing breast milk over the Internet should beware – when you obtain milk from an unfamiliar source, you cannot know for sure that what you are getting is safe for your baby,” said Keim.
Keim’s team collaborated with researchers from The Ohio State University and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre to purchase and test 102 samples of breast milk advertised on milk-sharing websites.
The team compared the purchased samples with their own preparations of human milk diluted with cow’s milk to approximate the amount of contamination required in order to test positive for bovine DNA.
All purchased samples did contain human milk, but 11 also contained bovine DNA, 10 of which had results consistent with more than minor, accidental contamination with cow’s milk.
The findings suggest that a notable number of sellers intentionally added cow’s milk or infant formula to the breast milk.
The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.