Breast milk sold on Internet is often tainted, testing finds

October 21, 2013
Public health
Breast milk sold
online often tainted

Human breast milk is sold for babies on several online sites for a few dollars an ounce, but a new study says buyer beware: It can contain potentially dangerous bacteria, including salmonella.

The warning comes from researchers who bought and tested 101 breast milk samples sold by women on one popular site. Three-fourths of the samples contained high amounts of bacteria that could potentially sicken babies, the researchers found. They did not identify the Web site.

The results are “pretty scary,” said Kenneth Boyer, pediatrics chief at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, who was not involved in the study. “Just imagine if the donor happens to be a drug user. You don’t know.”

Breast milk is also provided through milk banks, whose clients include hospitals. They also charge fees but screen donors and pasteurize milk to kill any germs.

With Internet sites, “you have very few ways to know for sure what you are getting is really breast milk and that it’s safe to feed your baby,” said Sarah Keim, the lead author and a researcher at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. “Because the consequences can be serious, it is not a good idea to obtain breast milk in this way.”

The advice echoes a 2010 recommendation from the federal Food and Drug Administration.

The researchers think theirs is the first study to test the safety of Internet-sold milk.

The study was published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Massachusetts
Alleged Bulger victim poisoned, officials say

The Massachusetts medical examiner’s office determined that cyanide poisoning killed an alleged extortion victim of Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger who had hoped to testify at Bulger’s trial, prosecutors said Sunday.

The medical examiner’s office concluded that Stephen Rakes, 59, of Quincy died of acute cyanide toxicity in July and ruled his death a homicide, according to MaryBeth Long, a spokeswoman for the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.

Authorities said Rakes’s death wasn’t related to the Bulger case.

Rakes’s business associate William Camuti, 69, of Sudbury is charged with attempted murder and other crimes for allegedly poisoning Rakes’s iced coffee. Camuti has pleaded not guilty.

Bulger was convicted in August of 11 killings and dozens of other gangland crimes. He is set to be sentenced next month.

— Associated Press

Pennsylvania
5 killed when SUV, motorcycles collide

A coroner on Sunday identified five Pennsylvania residents as the victims of a crash involving two motorcycles and an SUV near the Maryland state line.

All four people traveling on the motorcycles died, as did Marjorie Smith, 68, of Johnstown, who was a passenger in the SUV, said Franklin County coroner Jeffrey Conner.

The motorcyclists were Douglas Hoffer Jr., 32, of Quarryville; Colleen Nesbitt, 27, of Gap; and David Russell, 67, and Michelle Russell, 53, both of Mount Joy.

The crash happened Saturday in Washington Township.

— Associated Press

BART accident investigated: The commuter train that killed two San Francisco Bay Area transit workers didn’t have a front-facing video recorder, but interviews, inspections, audio recordings and camera footage from the train’s cab should provide enough evidence to determine a cause, a federal investigator said Sunday.

— Associated Press

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