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Holder-Pasteurized Human Donor Milk: How Long Can It Be Preserved?

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When own mother's milk falls short, pasteurized human donor milk is recommended as alternative feeding for preterm infants. Donor milk has to meet the highest safety standards, but its processing and storage is expensive. The recommended storage time of pasteurized donor milk is 3 months. The objective of the present study was to determine whether the frozen storage time of pasteurized donor milk can be extended beyond 3 months without compromising its safety and quality.Methods:

For this prospective observational study breast milk samples of 34 unique women, collected between November 2014 and June 2015, were provided by the Dutch Human Milk Bank. Samples were Holder pasteurized within 3 months after expression and stored at −20°C. Analysis of both bacterial growth (by inoculation of milk on a blood and a cysteine-, lactose-, and electrolyte-deficient agar) and fat, crude protein, carbohydrate and energy content of milk (analyzed by infrared spectroscopy) was done monthly during the first 6 months and every 2 months thereafter, up to 1 year postpasteurization.

Thirty of 306 (9.8%) follow-up samples showed bacterial growth when cultured. None of the samples showed sequential contamination with the same strain up to 8 months of frozen storage. No significant decreases in macronutrients and energy content were observed over 8 months.

Pasteurized human donor milk can be stored safely for 8 months at −20°C, without compromising its macronutrient and energy content. This longer storage time will reduce disposal of expired donor milk and subsequently reduce costs.

Keywords: breast milk; macronutrients; microbial; milk bank; preterm

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Pediatrics, VU University Medical Center 2: Department of Pediatrics, Emma Children's Hospital-Academic Medical Center 3: Department of Medical Microbiology and Infection Control, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 4: Department of Pediatrics, VU University Medical Center, Department of Pediatrics, Emma Children's Hospital-Academic Medical Center

Publication date: March 1, 2018

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