Milk banks vs. milk swaps
I've blogged several times about the dangers of buying milk from anywhere other than a milk bank but it seems no matter how many warnings are issued (including one from the FDA), milk swaps and online milk donors are thriving. Now it's at the expense of the milk banks which are suffering a critical shortage and have put out an "urgent call" for help. While you may not think that's a big deal, consider these points:
- Milk banks rigorously screen all milk that comes in for infections, bacteria and disease etc.
- All clean milk goes through a pasteurization
- All the milk at milk banks is transferred into bottles a hygienic and bacteria-free environment.
- Besides making that milk available to you, banks provide hospitals access to the milk for premature and sick infants.
Wouldn't you want those safeguards for your child?
Well, apparently many women don't and they are either buying breast milk online from donors (for a fee) they don't know or they are getting milk from women participating in milk swaps--communities of people who provide extra breast milk free of charge. Milk banks charge up to $4.50 an ounce. But they're not making money. That's what it costs to screen and pasteurize the milk. Again, let me ask, wouldn't you want that for your baby?
The reality is, even if you ask the person you're getting the milk from if she smokes, or has a disease and she says no, you're not off the hook. The donor may not know she has an infection of problem. For instance, if you have Hepatitis B you can feed your own baby breast milk but not someone else's. That's just one example. Using the rationale that if she feeds her baby with it, it must be fine just doesn't hold up. For those taking the risk of buying from someone online, while it may be cheaper than buying from a milk bank, you not only run the risk of unknown diseases or infections, but also the risk of buying from someone unscrupulous just looking to make a buck.
Don't chance it. It's not worth it. While the intentions may be good, the risks are too high. Aren't they?