Saturday, February 16, 2013

Buying Human Milk for Your Baby

Most health experts agree that the best milk for human babies is mother’s milk.  Human milk provides the ideal nutritional mix for the infant. It also partially protects babies from colds and infections early in life (when their own immune system is still immature) because it contains some of the same antibodies that are present in the mother.  These antibodies are not present in cow’s milk.

Unfortunately, some parents are not able to provide their infants with the infant’s mother’s own milk.  Gay couples, for example, and women who are unable to nurse will need another source of human milk.   Some parents find their own donors or rely on websites like Eats on Feets and Human Milk 4 Human Babies; others use established human milk banks such as those affiliated with the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.  The established milk banks alone dispense several millions of ounces of human milk every year; how much is exchanged privately or as a result of contact between strangers over the Internet is unknown.

Purchasers of human milk should be aware that human milk can contain harmful bacteria, or viruses such as H.I.V.   It may also contain certain drugs taken by the human milk donor.  The established milk banks routinely screen their donors and pasteurize the milk before selling it, but not all private exchanges do.   Unpasteurized human milk from an unknown source represents a risk.   It’s is up to the purchaser to decide on how great that risk is.

No comments: