An article published in the journal Pediatrics in 2013 revealing the presence of bacteria in breast milk purchased online resulted in increased media attention to peer-to-peer breast milk sharing. Media representations portray women who milk share as well-intentioned but uninformed about the possible dangers of milk sharing. Our study explores the reactions of mothers who milk share to media representations of the study. Data consist of an online survey of 392 and in-depth interviews with thirty milk sharing participants in Central Florida. Our findings show that 54.5 percent of participants expressed skepticism by using knowledge of the scientific method to question the Pediatrics study's methods and findings, the researchers' motives, and the remarkability of the findings. The 43.5 percent of participants who accepted the Pediatrics study's findings rejected its applicability to their own practices. They distinguished the sale/purchase from the free exchange of breast milk, highlighted the importance of hygiene and proper milk handling practices, and emphasized the critical role of trust, which distinguished their own milk sharing practices from those examined in the Pediatrics study. We argue that milk sharing mothers, as experience-based experts on milk sharing, identify gaps between the assumptions guiding the design of the Pediatrics studies and their own practices. Taking their perspectives into account in future studies could result in research that more accurately measures the safety of peer-to-peer milk sharing.

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