Freaky Finding Friday: So the tainted breastmilk and the party drug walk into the bar

Hold on to your chi chis, we now have a study, a published study, showing a downside to breastmilk. True it involves donor milk bought at milk-sharing websites (as opposed to milk banks). Still, some brave soul not only dared looked at the microbes floating around donor milk but gathered the strength to make it public. After locking down her lab and shuttering her Facebook and Twitter accounts, Sarah Keims, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Ohio State University and a researcher at Columbus' Nationwide Children's Hospital got down to the dirty work:
The researchers found that 64 percent of the samples from milk-sharing sites were contaminated with staph, 36 percent with strep, and almost three-quarters with other bacterial species. Three of the [101] samples contained salmonella. Seventy-four percent of the samples would have failed milk bank criteria. New York Times
Other courageous professionals admitted concern about the safety of donor milk: 
“The study makes you worry,” said Dr. Richard A. Polin, the director of neonatology and perinatology at Columbia University, who was not involved in the research. “This is a potential cause of disease. Even with a relative, it’s probably not a good idea to share.” New York Times
The results are “pretty scary,” said Kenneth Boyer, pediatrics chief at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, who was not involved in the study. “Just imagine if the donor happens to be a drug user. You don’t know.” Washington Post
Speaking of drugs...
What do breast milk and MDMA have in common? When you buy either purported miracle drug in an unregulated market, you never know exactly what it contains. New York Magazine 
There you have it folks, a direct comparison between an illicit drug and breastmilk. Don't count on it happening again. It doesn't get much freakier. 

Not everyone was thrilled about the study including one midwife who operates a milk portal and actually uttered the word "misinformation" while trashing the results and the media:
“A blatant attack on women attempting to feed their babies is cruel and you should feel ashamed of yourself for spreading misinformation,” Khadijah Cisse, a midwife who founded MilkShare, a portal for connecting women cited in the new research, said in an email to NBC News. “Anyone can type up any bit of lies they want and make claims. Breast milk is supposed to contain bacteria.”
Bestill my heart, another person who cares about accuracy and nuance in breastfeeding research. Another person who doesn't want mothers attacked for what they feed their babies.

For now I won't belabor the point that although it's true breastmilk contains very kind and helpful bacteria, this study addressed the more unneighborly type.

Check out more details about the study from my friend the Fearless Formula Feeder who finds hypocrisy more dangerous than tainted breastmilk. 

Microbial Contamination of Human Milk Purchased Via the Internet

  • Keim


Awesome Mom said...

What worries me even more than possibly spoiled milk is that there is a very real chance of diseases being passed on either knowingly or unknowingly. At least I knew that the formula I fed my kids would not give them hepatitis or HIV.

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D. said...

Fortunately none of the samples tested included those but you're right, it's a real concern. It reminds me of the guy selling his sperm online a few years ago, remember him? Buying bodily fluids online, let alone one's that involve children is just risky. Makes formula look ideal.