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Breast Milk Bought Online May Contain Harmful Germs

Nearly three-quarters of samples from an Internet milk-sharing site contained microbes that could make a baby sick

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She also said they're in the process of retesting their samples to find out exactly what's in them "because we suspect some of them might not have been 100 percent human milk."

The study is published online Oct. 21 and in the November print issue of Pediatrics.

Milk-sharing advocates point out that women have been helping each other nurse for generations. Before the Internet came into the picture, they say, mothers often relied on other women as wet nurses. And they say there's never been a documented case of a baby getting sick from shared milk.

That's true, Marinelli said, adding, "But do you think a mom who is buying milk off the Internet and her kid gets sick is going to necessarily tell the doctors what she did?"

And she said that 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.

For her part, Katie Sweet, who said she was still waiting for the first shipment of purchased breast milk to arrive, said the study left her feeling disappointed. She said she planned to contact her doctor and a friend who is a nurse practitioner to figure out how to proceed.

"I think if you work so hard to seek out milk it would be devastating to have a reaction like that," she said.

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