Blackmarket breast milk is being sold online by Scots mums – including some who sell to bodybuilders and refer to it as ‘liquid gold’.
NHS bosses have described the trend as “utterly horrendous”, and said it turns milk into a commodity and provides an opportunity for fraudsters to scam vulnerable women by selling them ‘white water’.
Women from across Scotland are selling the human milk online, including in Aberdeen, Inverness, Ayrshire, Dundee, and Fife.
Some mothers have openly admitted they are happy to sell breast milk for adults to use – with online communities of male bodybuilders describing it as ‘the greatest supplement ever’.
Commonly breast milk is referred to as ‘liquid gold’ in online ads, including international marketplace Only the Breast.
While Facebook pages exist for new mums to ‘share’ breast milk, websites also exist where it is sold for an average of £1 an ounce – prompting concerns from health professionals that women could be sold counterfeit breast milk.
Website Only the Breast offer mums the chance to buy or sell breast milk from the UK and the US.
Dubbed as a ‘community for moms’, international site Only the Breast states: “Moms all over America and the world are crying out for a place to buy and sell their breast milk.
“This is why we made onlythebreast.com. It’s clean, safe, private and easy!”.
Despite the American origins of the site – where some mothers boast of being Harvard graduates on their adverts – the website has users in Scotland too.
One advert, from a mother in Fife selling 54 ounces for £50, said: “I have a supply of frozen breast milk which my baby will not drink.
“I am a healthy 36 year old and have breast fed both my children. I have never done drugs and have a healthy diet.
“I always steam sterilise all equipment and the milk is put straight into sterilised bags and into the freezer. This milk was expressed between the end of July and beginning of Sep.
“I don’t mind if the milk is for a baby or an adult. If milk is to be posted buyer will cover all postage and packaging costs and arrange with courier.
“Alternatively if you live locally you can collect in person.”
Other adverts detailed lifestyle choices including avoiding caffeine.
There is a NHS-run breast milk bank at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, where mothers are screened before their breast milk is used.
But NHS Scotland milk bank coordinator Debbie Barnett warned that selling breast milk for money presented opportunities for fraudsters.
Ms Barnett said: “Milk bought online could pose a real health risk to babies.
“This is utterly horrendous and very concerning to see.
“At least with a milk sharing group women are likely doing it because they’re good people and just want to share surplus milk.
“But selling is a nightmare for a number of reasons – it turns milk into a commodity.
“When you add money to the situation, there’s no telling what people could be selling.
“It could just be white water.”
She added: “Women in financially unstable positions could even be selling the milk rather than feeding it to their own babies, so this is very worrying.”
One mother from Ayrshire, selling milk for £1 per ounce, and described herself as ‘a healthy professional mother who does not smoke or use any medication’.
The mum’s advert said: “We try to eat as much organic food as possible.
“Our 4 month old baby boy is very big and healthy and developing well!
“Milk collected mostly between June and July 2018.
“Would prefer to sell all frozen milk in bulk. Approximately 40 x 6oz bags available.”
Another from Inverness, Highlands, said: “Payment via PayPal only. No scammers, no pics, no adult wet nursing.
“Breast milk for sale, can be frozen or fresh. I am currently breastfeeding my 5 month old and I am currently also a NHS milk donor and have gone through their screening including blood tests.
“I do not drink alcohol or take drugs including caffeine.”
She added: “I do use asthma inhalers.”
Government agency Food Standards Scotland has advised breastfeeding mothers to contact their GP, midwife or health visitor to discuss how best to feed their baby.
A Food Standards spokesman said: “To ensure safety, we recommend that all mothers who wish to receive or donate their breast milk should contact their local donor breast milk bank to make sure that the relevant checks are being followed.”