OKLAHOMA CITY — The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants drink exclusively breast milk for the first six months of life, and then as much milk as mommy makes, as long as baby is interested.
There is no medical recommendation for adults drinking breast milk. But, It’s happening!
Milk is rich in calcium, protein and vitamin D. It is one of nature’s great accomplishments; the way mothers feed their young.
Dairy cows provide for about 85 percent of the world’s milk drinkers.
But, the juice of the jersey has company in the milk market these days.
The demand for milk worldwide is growing, and so is the demand for various kinds of dairy: goat, camel, buffalo and human.
Apparently old Bessie just isn’t good enough for a growing number adults. Self-proclaimed fitness nuts are searching out human milk donors.
There’s quite a demand for breast milk online. Ebay has a policy against selling bodily fluids, but Craigslist is wide open. And now there is a new website making a name for itself in the breast milk market, onlythebreast.com.
It is a clearinghouse for modern day wet nurses.
Most of the business on the site, it seems, is mother to mother. Although the site does feature a special category for men seeking milk.
A quick scan through some of the public ads include a number of men who are looking to pay to breastfeed, and one buyer advertising a “Lactation Vacation” all expenses paid. Indeed, one man is looking for wet nursing on demand “every four hours” for a week.
Onlythebreast.com does have policies in place against adult nursing and bizarre requests for women pumping their breast milk. However, despite the regulations that activity is still very prevalent online.
NewsChannel 4 contacted the founders of the site. They refused our request for an interview.
Oklahoma City mother, Erin Page breastfed both of her children and was lucky to have some extra milk when it came time to wean.
Page did not even consider brokering a deal for that left-over dairy.
“To me the concern is that it could be really risky.” said Page. “I feel really fortunate that I was able to breastfeed both of my babies and had so much excess supply to bless other babies with as well.”
According to a 2013 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics this cottage industry of human milk produces some sour results. Online buyers may not be getting the cream of the crop. In fact, researchers found 74 percent of internet milk samples were colonized with bacteria.
Those staggering statistics are part of the reason why Page brought her excess milk supply to the Oklahoma Mothers’ Milk Bank.
The milk that comes into the Oklahoma milk bank is donated from generous nursing moms across Oklahoma, divided into sterilized bottles and shipped to level three neonatal intensive care units around the state.
Milk bank workers screen every donor. They test every batch and provide life-saving nutrition to critically ill babies.
“The health impact is tremendous.” said Executive Director, Becky Mannel, “The babies can go home from the hospital sooner. They’re going to grow faster.”
There are many ways to close the so-called milk gap, those cases when a desperate mommy cannot keep up with baby’s demand.
“Mother to mother milk sharing has happened for centuries.” Mannel said. “What has changed now is the internet and social media. Purchasing milk is a very scary, dicey issue.”
If your search for mother’s milk takes you to the world-wide web, watch out. What you might discover is a mother lode of questionable customers.