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Buying and Selling Breast Milk

 Although an increasing number of women are selling their breast milk online today, health professionals have issued warnings that the practice may not be completely safe.

Women in the U.S. and the UK are using community forums, including Facebook to sell their breast milk online in increasing numbers. Although there are ways for qualified mothers who cannot breast feed to receive breast milk  or free from milk banks in both nations, buying breast milk is tempting to many new parents who may be struggling with their own breast feeding routines. The free breast milk centers offer ways to both donate and receive pasteurized breast milk from pre-screened mothers who have a plentiful supply and a baby under six-months old. The breast milk is highly sought as it has been proven to provide babies with better protection against illnesses and allergies compared to infant formulas. However, a large number of women have also found that they can make some extra cash selling their breast milk online to anyone who wants to buy it.

A typical online breast milk supplier will tout the fact that buying breast milk online makes it possible to sell or buy breast milk in a clean, private way. It is also very convenient. Donors simply list their milk under the age of their own baby on the site and state if they can provide fresh milk on demand. A check of online milk prices shows that breast milk sells for about $2 per fluid ounce in the U.S. and about $1.50 per ounce in the UK today. The only problem with the online commerce in breast milk is that many medical professionals are now turning against the practice.

Doctors from the Professional Association of Pediatricians in Germany are now saying that although breast milk is generally the best option for newborns, mothers unable to breastfeed should not turn to the Internet. The association points out that the milk donors might be taking medicines or drugs, or have infectious illnesses like AIDS or Hepatitis. The German doctors warned that it is impossible to determine in advance whether an unknown mother's milk is actually harmless for a particular child, and that the milk's quality could also be negatively affected during transportation. They also warned that a newborn's nutritional needs are different from those of a baby of several weeks or months old, and that milk from women who already have an older child will not contain the right nutrient composition for a newborn. The German doctors instead advised women who were unable to breastfeed to use powdered milk infant formulas.

Women in the UK have received warnings from the National Health Service (NHS) there saying "We would strongly recommend using the official NHS milk banks rather than buying breast milk from other sources over the Internet." The problem is that while families can ask for medical documents showing the milk donor has a clean bill of health, it isn't mandatory. A spokesman for the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health said in a statement that "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." Anyone who buys breast milk online today needs to take steps to ensure the milk is checked for substances that could be harmful to their baby, that it is pasteurized properly and that it is transported safely, and buying online from a donor you don't know makes it very difficult to ensure those steps are taken.

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