Lancaster, NY – There is a new warning for new moms who are buying breast milk online. A study published Monday in Pediatrics shows human breast milk sold online may be topped off with cow's milk.
Heather Wascak receives breast milk donations from as far away as California, but most of the milk she gets comes from women she knows right here in Western New York.
Wascak found out she had cancer when she was 34 weeks pregnant and can't breast feed her daughter.
"I was able to breast feed her for a few weeks before I started chemo and a little bit when I was in remission, but for the most part she's had all donor breast milk. She's completely healthy. She's growing. She's off the charts. Huge," says Wascak.
Wascak completely trusts her donors and hasn't had any problems. She also used to donate breast milk when she was breast feeding her first child.
"I saw that article and that was actually the first time I heard of cow's milk being in breast milk donations. That's crazy," says Wascak.
It is important to note the study only looked at breast milk sold online. Wascak and many Western New York moms we heard from think milk shouldn't be sold and should strictly be donated.
The FDA doesn't regulate this process and has warned since 2010 that milk sold or shared online could be unsafe.
Dr. Thomas Cozza does not recommend getting milk online from an unknown mother.
"The concerns that I would have possibly could be toxins within that breast milk, either chemical or medicinal residue in the breast milk. Perhaps germs. HIV has been transmitted in the breast milk. The reliance is too much on the honor system that that mom is healthy and that breast milk is healthy," says Cozza.
Karen Butcher is a board certified lactation consultant. She says it's a matter of trust.
"You've got a mom who is very willing to share her breast milk to help another child. But would that same mom be very willing to take breast milk from an unknown donor for her baby. It's a trust issue. It's a safety issue. It's a health issue for our babies. Breast milk is best, but know your reputable sources for obtaining it," says Butcher.
"I trust them because they're nursing their own children. And a mother knowingly wouldn't nurse their child if there was something wrong with them or if they were putting them at risk and then they're going out of their way to pump and donate because it's a lot of work to pump and donate. I've done it," says Wascak.
Wascak is a member of the Holistic Parenting Network.