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Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Paediatrics, 3.3 HEALTH SCIENCES, Public and environmental health


There are limited data available about the prevalence of human milk (HM) sharing and selling in the general population. We aimed to describe attitudes toward HM selling among participants in a qualitative‐interview study and prevalence of HM sharing and selling among a national sample of U.S. mothers. Mothers (n = 41) in our qualitative‐interview study felt that sharing or donating HM was more common than selling; none had ever purchased or sold HM. Three themes related to HM selling emerged from this work: questioning the motives of those selling HM, HM selling limits access to HM to those with money, and HM selling is a legitimate way to make money. Some mothers had reservations about treating HM as a commodity and the intentions of those who profit from the sale of HM. Nearly all participants in our national survey of U.S. mothers (94%, n = 429) had heard of infants consuming another mother's HM. Approximately 12% had provided their milk to another; half provided it to someone they knew. Fewer mothers (6.8%) reported that their infant had consumed another mother's HM; most received this HM from someone they knew. A smaller proportion of respondents (1.3%) had ever purchased or sold HM. Among a national sample of U.S. mothers, purchasing and selling HM was less common than freely sharing HM. Together, these data highlight that HM sharing is not uncommon in the United States. Research is required to create guidelines for families considering HM sharing.