China’s super-rich are paying thousands of dollars a month for human breast milk, with some even choosing to be wet nursed.
The bizarre new trend has seen a rise in adults buying breast milk and drinking it either straight from the wet nurse or after it was expressed.
Newspaper reports on the service have provoked outrage in China with tens of thousands of people posting on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
According to the Southern Metropolis Daily, domestic staff agencies are offering wet nurses for newborns, sick people or anyone who will pay up to 16,000 yuan [$4,000 USD] a month .
Customers say they want the concentrated nutrition breast milk provides.
It has a unique combination of antibodies, living cells, enzymes, hormones and fatty acids that has led some people to treat it as the latest superfood.
‘Adult (clients) can drink it directly through breastfeeding, or they can always drink it from a breast pump if they feel embarrassed’, Lin Jun, owner of company Xinxinyu that offers the service, was quoted as saying by AFP.
Critics say the practice turns a mother’s milk into a commodity and cheapens the bond between mother and child.
Nine out of ten people said they disagreed with the practice on an online poll.
One user on Weibo called it ‘disguised pornography’, while others said it was merely a form of novelty entertainment for China’s super rich.
It is not only in China that has seen a rise in adults drinking breast milk.
The first website offering breast milk for sale was launched in 2010 and it has steadily grown since then.
In the UK, as well as NHS registered breast milk banks for mothers who cannot breast feed their babies themselves, there are also women selling supplies to adults, who claim it helps with a variety of ailments.
In 2011, London outlet The Icreamists hit headlines around the world with their Baby Gaga ice-cream made from breast milk and served with a rusk.
Other countries take the supposed health benefits of breast milk very seriously.
Cancer patients, or those with digestive disorders or immune problems, can obtain breast milk on prescription in the U.S.
Trials are also underway in California for a breast milk acne cream.