Traditionally, mothers or recreational users of breast milk have been limited to two sources: milk banks, which screen donations and distribute through medical channels; or peer-to-peer sales, which lack quality control and often are facilitated by online classified ads or websites like OnlyTheBreast.com.
There's less red tape with online retailers, but the milk they provide may be "cut" with cow's milk or contain other impurities.
And studies of peer-to-peer sales have found transmissions of diseases like syphilis, hepatitis and HIV. In 2010, the FDA recommended against feeding babies with milk acquired directly from individuals through the Internet.
Amanda Ottley, a lactation services coordinator for the Utah County Health Department, runs the county's Mother's Milk Depot, a donation facility for a Denver-based milk bank.
She said peer-to-peer sales run the risk of carrying infectious bacteria, compared to the screening and pasteurization process of established milk banks. "As a lactation consultant, I do not recommend that moms share milk," she said.
Ambrosia aims to be the best of both worlds by using the end-to-end distribution model of a milk bank with the high-supply volume of peer-to-peer sales.
Bronzson served an LDS mission in Cambodia. He returned to the country in May to set up an Ambrosia Labs donation center and to recruit donor mothers.
"We required that their children are 6 months old or older before they start donating," he said. "We don't want to be taking milk out of children's mouths."
He described the model as a win-win for parents in both countries, providing income to donors and supplying a product in high demand at an affordable cost.
"The amount that we're paying them essentially doubles the median income of a Cambodian family," he said.
The breast milk sold through Ambrosia Labs is "gently" pasteurized, as it would be at a milk bank, Bronzson said, which puts a dent in its nutritional value but maintains the bulk of its health properties.
"That makes our milk less desirable than a mother's own milk, but still far superior to formula," he said.
Ottley said there is nothing wrong with milk alternatives like baby formula. But she added that breast milk remains the gold standard for infant nutrition.
"Breast milk is the most natural and the best way to feed your baby," she said.