Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Baby

Font Size

'Breast Milk Banks' Gain in Popularity

Experts say they're safer than online milk-sharing sources


By comparison, there are no safety precautions in place for milk shared through online sites. A recent study found that nearly three-quarters of 101 breast milk samples purchased through a milk-sharing website contained bacteria that could make a baby sick -- including three batches that tested positive for salmonella.

Women who buy milk from these websites "don't know who's got hepatitis B and who's HIV-positive and who's got germs in their milk, and none of it's pasteurized," Landers said. The AAP is weighing a policy statement that would discourage mothers from participating in these online swapping sites.

The idea of breast milk banking is not a new one. Back in the early 1980s, a network of 30 milk banks stretched across the United States, with another 20 in Canada.

But the HIV/AIDS health crisis of the 1980s, along with a surge in hepatitis cases, led to the shuttering of nearly all the breast milk banks, Updegrove said. At the lowest point, only one breast milk bank -- in San Jose, Calif. -- remained open.

Breast milk banks began to reestablish themselves in North America as the value of human milk for struggling infants became more apparent and new protocols were established to ensure the safety of banked milk, she said.

These efforts were sent into overdrive by a 2012 policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics supporting the use of donor milk for at-risk newborns.

Before that policy, the AAP had said that all premature babies should be fed their own mother's milk.

But the new policy broadened that recommendation, saying that when mother's milk is not available, then premature and low-birth-weight babies should be fed donated breast milk. "That was a big difference," Landers said.

One of the nation's newest nonprofit milk banks, the Northwest Mothers Milk Bank in Portland, Ore., has succeeded well beyond its expectations since it opened in July 2013.

Organizers had projected that they would screen 40 mothers to become milk donors by the end of 2013, executive director Lesley Mondeaux said. They ended up screening 122 donors in that time, and another 79 so far this year.

Baby's First Year Newsletter

Because every week matters, get expert advice and facts on what to expect in your baby's first year.

Today on WebMD

mother on phone holding baby
When you should call 911.
parents and baby
Unexpected ways your life will change.
baby acne
What’s normal – and what’s not.
baby asleep on moms shoulder
Help your baby get the sleep he needs.

mother holding baby at night
mother with sick child
Chinese mother breast feeding newborn baby girl
Track Your Babys Vaccines
Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
Woman holding feet up to camera
Father kissing newborn baby
baby gear slideshow