Updated: 10/21/2013 11:50 PM
Created: 10/21/2013 11:45 PM WHEC.com
By: Lynette Adams
We have a warning tonight for new moms, and mothers to be.
Doctors say you should be very careful, about buying breast milk from other women. This morning the Today Show called it a growing trend, women who can't produce their own milk, buying breast milk for their babies online. But a new study shows it can be very dangerous to do.
The study was published today in the journal "Pediatrics."
Researchers say they found harmful bacteria in nearly 75-percent of the samples purchased on a website where women advertise breast milk. They say some of those samples contained salmonella, and others had traces of fecal matter.
That website says it is putting precautions into place, including stopping what it calls informal sharing between mothers. So if you want it, how can you get breast milk that is safe?
Lynette Adams took that and other questions to neonatologist, Dr. Ruth Lawrence, from the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Lynette Adams: Some mothers say the benefits of breast milk are worth the risk of going on the internet and buying milk...would you agree?
Dr. Ruth Lawrence, M.D.: Milk that stands around, bacteria can grow in it because it's so nutritious, its nutritious for the bacteria too. And if it’s not pasteurized, and you've kept in your own freezer and you send it out somewhere, it's bound to be contaminated. Its not that bacteria are inherently bad, but there are some that were mentioned in the article that are pathogens what we recognize as disease promoting.
We asked Dr. Lawrence why she thinks women are going to such lengths to get breast milk.
Dr. Lawrence: We have finally gotten the message out to mothers how valuable mothers milk is and what a difference it makes, not only today and next week, but for a lifetime. There are nutrients in human milk that are not in formula, all of these things that make the brain.
Lynette: For women who can't breast feed, what would you recommend?
Lawrence: Mothers who can't produce their own milk feel terribly inadequate, and there are women who for some reason or whatever can't produce milk, it doesn't make them any less a mother, but they're desperate and they do desperate things and we have to make it so they don't have to do desperate things, but can get that milk for their babies.
So what are those legitimate ways moms can get milk? Dr. Lawrence says milk banks. There are several across the country. For example the Mothers Milk cooperative in Michigan, where 3000 women donate milk. The donors are screened by the Red Cross. They have to submit to a blood test, and they have to adhere to safety protocols.
If you would like more information about the Mother's Milk Coop, you can call (888)250-8738 or
You can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are milk banks at hospitals across the nation. A Google search could probably locate one that's not to far away.
Doctor Lawrence told News10NBC the URMC had a milk bank but closed it because of rigorous state health department regulations.
Lawrence says the hospital has worked to create another one but it would fall under the same state laws that govern organ donation. She says the requirements would be expensive and too much of a burden for hospitals.
We contacted the state health department about this, and we'll let you know if we learn anything new.