The black market for human breast milk has turned into something of a cottage industry in recent years, but a new study has found that the milk donated through swaps or sold on the Internet often contains high levels of potentially dangerous bacteria, including salmonella.
For the study, published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers collected and tested 101 breast milk samples from two popular milk-sharing sites.
The researchers found that 64 percent of the samples from milk-sharing sites were contaminated with staph, 36 percent with strep, and almost three-quarters with other bacterial species. Three of the samples contained salmonella.
While staph and strep are harmless at normal levels, some of the breast milk tested in the study had levels that were "very high." The researchers couldn't figure out the source for the bacteria. It could be from the woman's skin, her pump, or from improper shipping methods. The FDA, which does not regulate the selling or trading of human breast milk, discourages the practice.
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