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Buying human breast milk online poses serious health risk

Profile:Buying human breast milk online poses serious health risk

Buying human breast milk online poses serious health risk, say experts

A growing market in online sales of often contaminated human breast milk – fuelled in part by bodybuilders and adults with a baby fetish – poses a serious risk to public health, according to experts.


Researchers from the University of London's school of medicine and dentistry were so alarmed by their initial findings that they wrote an editorial in the British Medical Journal to warn of the dangers of buying breast milk online before their study was completed. The editorial says breast milk sold online should be screened for diseases such as hepatitis, HIV and syphilis.


Lead author Dr Sarah Steele said she feared that babies would die from unscreened milk sold online if the market was not regulated. In one of the studies she cited, more than 90% of breast milk purchased online was found to have bacterial growth. Some of the sellers interviewed included intravenous drug users.


Unregulated websites selling breast milk attract tens of thousand of users in theUS, the research found. One site reported growing by 800 users each month. It also reported an emerging market in theUKon specialist sites as well as general retail sites including Gumtree and Craigslist. Premium prices of up $4 (£2.70) per fluid ounce (30ml) are offered by mothers who purport to eat only organic or vegan food, or can boast having "fat, chubby babies", the researchers found.

调查发现,在美国,不受监管的人奶售卖网站吸引了数万用户.有网站据称每月增长800名用户.此外,调查也发现英国的专业网站和普通零售网站,如 Gumtree和Craigslist等,也开始成为网购人奶的新兴市场.研究人员发现,优质的人奶的价格高达每盎司(30毫升)4美元,供应者声称只吃有机食品或素食,也有人吹嘘自己有"胖嘟嘟的婴儿".

The online market caters primarily for mothers who are unable to breastfeed their babies, serving as a cheaper alternative to regulated milk banks, wher the milk is always pasteurised. But consumers also include cancer patients who believe breast milk has health benefits and gym enthusiasts who believe breast milk is a natural superfood. A third group of adult consumers are fetishists "who like to be fed like a baby, either from source or from a bottle", according to Steele.


Steele explained the dangers: "When sellers freeze milk and send it in the mail it thaws out. That's when bacteria has time to grow and become really dangerous, especially for infants."


Steele said the health benefits for adults of drinking breast milk were unproven. "Human breast milk doesn't really have that many advantages for adults," she said. "It is certainly not what you need in the context of bodybuilding and cross-fit, as a post-workout recovery drink."

斯蒂尔说,成人饮用人奶是否有益健康还未经考证. "人奶对成年人未必有那么多好处,"她说. "人奶肯定不是你健身和锻炼之后需要的能量饮品."

She pointed out that consuming breast milk was regularly discussed on mainstream online bodybuilding forums.


The paper concludes: "Although breast milk holds many known benefits, seeking out another's milk rather than turning to instant formula poses risks. When breast milk is screened and treated appropriately, as the World Health Organisation states, it remains second to a mother's own milk as best for infant feeding. At present, milk bought online is a far from ideal alternative, exposing infants and other consumers to microbiological and chemical agents. Urgent action is required to make this market safer."


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