Many people watched a news report of Selma Hayek breast-feeding a child that was not her own. She visited a country where food is scarce and many mothers cannot produce enough breast milk to feed their infants. While many people were shocked by her actions there were many that were touched by the act of giving her breast milk to a child in need. While this is a very thoughtful and touching act, sharing breast milk can be dangerous.
A growing trend in the United States and Canada is breast milk sharing. Essentially, you donate your breast milk for women who are unable to produce their own milk.
There are social network sites that have established breast milk sharing clubs. In addition, numerous internet milk banks have been established.
The real issue here is this donated breast milk and donor have not been tested for infectious diseases or contaminates such as illegal drugs. There is a 42 percent chance of transmitting HIV through breast milk. There is a 76 percent chance of transmitting the Cytomegalovirus through breast milk. While I understand a mother wanting her child to have the benefits of breast milk, I cannot imagine using breast milk from a stranger. A stranger that has not been tested for infectious diseases or drug use.
It is important to mention that many hospitals have established milk banks. The milk is “flash” pasteurized, which kills most bacteria and viruses. The real concern is the milk clubs that are established which do not take these precautions. Mothers are actually buying milk from these clubs over the internet. In addition, many of the online milk banks do not take the same precautions as the hospital milk banks. The notion that you do not know how this milk is stored and the donor has not been tested is shocking.
This is a serious public health issue and the FDA and Health Canada have issued repeated warnings. Despite these warnings, the trend continues to grow.
Sadly, until an infant is infected with a possible fatal virus, mothers will not heed the warnings. It is simply not safe!