Mothers sell their breast milk on Facebook

Women in the UK and U.S are selling their breast milk online, despite serious concerns that it could be harmful for babies.

Mothers are using community forums, including Facebook, to make some quick cash out of their extra milk.

Buying breast milk is tempting to new parents struggling to express their own, as it provides babies with better protection against illnesses and allergies compared to formula

Websites such as onlythebreast.co.uk appear to answer this need, saying: Our discrete breastfeeding breast milk classified system makes it possible to sell or buy breast milk in a clean, private way.

Donor mothers list their milk under the age of their baby and if they can provide fresh milk on demand. A search around the site reveals women from Essex to Newcastle are offering it either fresh or frozen for around £1 per fluid ounce, while $2 per ounce is the standard rate in the U.S .

There are legitimate ways to both donate and receive breast milk for free via milk banks. These centres store breast milk for babies whose mothers cant breastfeed.

The banks collect expressed milk from pre-screened mothers who have a plentiful supply and a baby under six-months old. It is then pasteurised before it is offered to nearby hospitals.

But today doctors in Germany warned new parents against privately obtaining their babys food through social networks such as Facebook.

The Professional Association of Pediatricians said that although breast is generally the best option for newborns, mothers unable to breastfeed should not turn to the internet.

Donors can be taking medicines or drugs, have infectious illnesses like AIDS or Hepatitis, Wolfram Hartmann, president of the association, said.

Nobody can check whether the unknown mothers milk is harmless for the particular child he warned, adding that the milks quality could also be affected during its transportation.

The warning follows a report by the online edition of German news weekly Der Spiegel and the associations own research, it said.

Doctors agree that breast milk is better than formula as it is packed with disease-fighting substances. However, many women struggle to express enough milk and resort to bottle feeding

It also warned that a newborns nutritional needs differed from those of a baby even of several weeks or months old.

The milk of a woman who already has an older child does not contain the right nutrient composition for a newborn, it added, and said women who were unable to breastfeed should use special powdered milk.

Although websites such as onlythebreast.co.uk says families can take precautions such as asking for medical documents showing the donor has a clean bill of health, this isnt mandatory.

Professor Mitch Blair, Officer for Health Promotion at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: We encourage women to breastfeed where possible as it can have real health benefits for both mother and child.

For mothers who are unable to breastfeed, but want to give their children breast milk, the NHS breast milk bank provides a safe outlet for them to do so.

We would strongly recommend using these official NHS milk banks rather than buying breast milk from other sources over the internet.

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