There are health risks to giving babies human breast milk obtained online or directly from individuals, Health Canada says.
Such breast milk needs to processed to remove viruses like HIV or bacteria like staph that can cause food poisoning, the department warns. In most cases, medical information about milk donors is unknown. And improper hygiene, storage or handling could contaminate the milk or cause spoilage.
As well, traces of prescription and non-prescription drugs can be transmitted through human breast milk, Health Canada said.
Earlier this month, the Canadian Pediatric Society said it doesn't endorse the sharing of unprocessed breast milk.
Canada has only one human milk bank, based in Vancouver, which can't meet demand for the fluid, the group said. CPS has therefore called for milk banks to be expanded across the country.
People who have questions about breastfeeding or are considering buying human milk, acquiring it on the internet or directly from individuals should consult with their health care professional, Health Canada recommended.
The department calls breastfeeding the best method of nourishing infants for optimal growth, nutrition, immunological and emotional benefits.