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Breastfeed Med. 2015 Jun;10(5):263-9. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2015.0009. Epub 2015 May 14.

Milk sharing in practice: a descriptive analysis of peer breastmilk sharing.

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1 Department of Anthropology, University of Central Florida , Orlando, Florida.
2 Department of Sociology, University of Central Florida , Orlando, Florida.


Peer breastmilk sharing has emerged in recent years as a subject of investigation and occasional controversy. Although researchers know that thousands of milk exchanges are facilitated through milk sharing Web sites every week, there is only limited research into milk sharing practices on the ground. This study examines these practices through a 102-item online survey that asked questions about milk sharing practices, perceptions of milk sharing, and demographic characteristics. Participants were recruited through social media sites specific to breastfeeding and parenting events in Central Florida. The sample consisted of 392 respondents. Data were analyzed using univariate analysis. We found that breastmilk sharing is a complex practice, showing high levels of overlap in which some donors are also recipients, and that cross-nursing sometimes occurs simultaneously with the exchange of expressed milk. Respondents often donated and received milk from people they knew; however, exchanging milk with strangers was also common. Many but not all used the Internet to facilitate milk exchange; participants used well-known milk sharing Web sites as well as their private virtual networks. The study found that most milk exchanges happen in-person as gifts and that selling and shipping breastmilk were rare. We suggest that further research is needed on breastmilk sharing practices to inform breastmilk safety research and policy recommendations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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