Breast milk is healthy for babies. Studies show that it boosts a child's immunity to all kinds of illnesses and allergies. But what happens if you can't breast feed your baby?
The latest trend is buying mother's milk off the Internet! According to People magazine, it all started with Jenn Connel, a cancer patient who'd had a double mastectomy. She created a website called FeedMyBaby.com, and appealed to other moms for help. After filling out health questionnaires, dozens of mothers packed their extra breast milk in dry ice and shipped it to her, overnight.
Now, it's a large, fast-growing market, thanks to single fathers, mothers who are ill, and parents who adopted their children.
Supporters say it isn't unusual to feed babies milk from someone other than their mother! Throughout human history, when a woman couldn't breast feed her baby, she got help from family or friends, or passed the baby off to a wet nurse.
But pediatricians and health experts say getting breast milk from perfect strangers is too risky. Studies have shown that mother's milk can carry serious diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV! And dry ice shipments don't always keep products cold enough so there's a risk of spoilage. In fact, in California and New York, it's illegal for unauthorized providers to sell or give away breast milk over the Internet.
So, if you're looking for a safer source of mother's milk there are 12 established milk banks in the U.S. and Canada. They screen potential donors for hepatitis, HIV and other infectious diseases. And all milk donations are pasteurized and then frozen for safe storage. But it can be pricey! Most milk banks charge $3 dollars an ounce! And since some babies drink 28 ounces a day that works out to about $84 dollars a day! Pretty expensive for baby food.
But if you'd like to go further, check out the website at the Human Milk Banking Association of North America at HMBANA.org.