Risks with human breast milk from Internet (or others)

An animal advocacy group wanted Ben and Jerry’s to use human breast milk in its ice cream a couple of years ago, but it sounds like there’s some weirder mommy fetish going on in Canada – so much so that Health Canada warned Canadians yesterday to be aware of the potential health risks associated with consuming human breast milk obtained through the Internet or directly from individuals.

Obtaining human milk from the Internet or directly from individuals raises health concerns because, in most cases, medical information about the milk donors is not known. The Canadian Paediatric Society does not endorse the sharing of unprocessed human milk.

There is a potential risk that the milk may be contaminated with viruses such as HIV or bacteria which can cause food poisoning, such as Staphylococcus aureus.

In addition, traces of substances such as prescription and non-prescription drugs can be transmitted through human milk. Improper hygiene when extracting the milk, as well as improper storage and handling, could also cause the milk to spoil or be contaminated with bacteria and/or viruses that may cause illness.

Breastfeeding promotes optimal infant growth, health and development and is recognized internationally as the best method of feeding infants. However, unprocessed human milk should not be shared.