Nearly three-quarters of samples from an Internet milk-sharing site contained microbes that could make a baby sick
The researchers did not name the specific websites used in their study but said the contaminated samples came from a U.S. milk-sharing website that uses a classified ad format.
Of 101 samples purchased anonymously, nearly three-quarters of the samples contained bacteria that could make a baby sick, including three batches that tested positive for salmonella.
Salmonella and other kinds of gram-negative bacteria, which were the most common types found in the study, normally live in a person's gut.
"That tells me that the person who pumped that milk used very bad hygiene. Essentially, they didn't wash their hands after using the toilet," said Marinelli, who was not involved in the study.
CMV is common -- somewhere between 50 percent and 80 percent of people have had CMV by the time they're 40, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In healthy babies, CMV causes a mild flu-like illness that's rarely serious, Marinelli said. But for premature infants and those with compromised immune function, the virus can be very dangerous.
"If preemies get milk with CMV in it, they can get everything from a systemic illness that can put them back on a ventilator and make them really, really sick, to death, so you don't want them to get milk with CMV in it," said Marinelli, who is also a neonatologist at Connecticut Children's Medical Center, in Hartford.
Intriguingly, when the researchers compared the contamination in the purchased breast milk to unpasteurized samples that had been donated to a local breast milk bank, they found the donated samples were less likely to contain harmful germs.
Researchers say there may be a couple of reasons for the differences. The first is that milk banks carefully educate donors about safe collection and handling of breast milk. Some websites also post safe-sharing guidelines, but buyers have no way to know whether sellers are actually following them.
And previous studies have found that almost one in three mothers never cleans her breast pump.
... most of the kinds of bacteria found in the study would probably cause symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, listlessness, and in severe cases maybe an all-over infection -- and mothers might not even realize that the milk caused the problem.[emphasis mine]
I didn't know you could but that online