PARENTS

Would You Buy Breast Milk From A Website (Or Sell Yours Online)?

19/10/2012 09:31 | Updated 22 May 2015
Would you buy breastmilk from a website (or sell yours online)?

Would you buy breast milk from a website?

It's a recent phenomenon but one that is in much demand by mums who struggle to express or to keep up with their hungry babies' demands.

Sites such as OnlyTheBreast.co.uk offer mothers with too much milk the opportunity to sell - through a classified ads section - to those who need more.

And you can buy it fresh or frozen for around £1 per fluid ounce.

But while the practise isn't news to the 14,000 members who use the site to connect with other like-minded women, it has raised concerns with doctors in Germany.

Doctors in Germany have warned new parents against privately obtaining their baby's food through the internet.

The Professional Association of Pediatricians said that although breast is generally the best option for newborns, mothers unable to breastfeed should be careful about buying from strangers.

"Donors can be taking medicines or drugs, have infectious illnesses like AIDS or Hepatitis," said Wolfram Hartmann, president of the association.

"Nobody can check whether the unknown mother's milk is harmless for the particular child."

He also added that the milk's quality could also be affected during its transportation.

Even though breast milk is available for free via screened NHS banks, these give priority to sick children so many mothers turn to online services.

OnlyTheBreast.co.uk, for example, says: "Our discrete breastfeeding breast milk classified system makes it possible to sell or buy breast milk in a clean, private way."

And its founder Glenn Snow insisted the milk on offer was risk-free because of the way the community of mothers self-polices.

Mr Snow, who set up the site after his wife Chelly said she wanted to sell her extra milk to give her some spending money as a stay-at-home mother, told Parentdish: "The mothers are very good at screening each other.

"These doctors' reports always fail to mention that a large percentage of the donors on our site have been milk bank approved and/or have undergone blood tests assuring the safety of their milk.

"We have procedures mothers follow to drastically reduce the already minimal risk. These doctors reports always fail to mention that a large percentage of the donors on our site have been milk bank approved and/or have undergone blood tests assuring the safety of their milk.

"We also offer blood testing at wholesale pricing to give mothers access to affordable testing. We also thoroughly explain how to safely pump, package and ship their milk.

"Additionally, please remember that these mothers are feeding this same milk to their babies and have recently given birth, which required blood tests etc and they share the results with the receiving mothers.

"These sharing mothers do their homework and interview each other making sure that the milk being shared is safe for their babies. The solution these doctors offer, is that mothers should buy their milk from milk banks but this does not solve the problem.

"Many mothers do not have access to and can not afford the high prices of the extremely limited supply of the milk banks. They say it like it is so easy to buy from a milk bank, but the fact is that milk banks don't have enough to go around.

"If an infant is not extremely sick, the parent will not be able to buy milk from milk banks anyway. If a mother does not want to give her baby formula due to medical reasons or other concerns, or perhaps her milk supply is low, or she has a medical condition keeping her from breastfeeding, then her options are slim to none without turning to online sources to fill her baby's need."

But although websites such as OnlyTheBreast.co.uk say families can take precautions such as asking for medical documents showing the donor has a clean bill of health, this isn't mandatory.

Professor Mitch Blair, Officer for Health Promotion at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: "We encourage women to breastfeed where possible - as it can have real health benefits for both mother and child.

"For mothers who are unable to breastfeed, but want to give their children breast milk, the NHS breast milk bank provides a safe outlet for them to do so.

"We would strongly recommend using official NHS milk banks rather than buying breast milk from other sources over the internet.

"It's crucial that the milk is checked thoroughly for substances that could be harmful to the baby, that it is pasteurised properly and that it is transported safely - and only through official milk banks can we be sure that's the case."

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