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J Hosp Infect. 2004 Oct;58(2):146-50.

Bacteriological screening of expressed breast milk revealed a high rate of bacterial contamination in Chinese women.

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Department of Paediatrics, Kwong Wah Hospital, Waterloo Road, Hong Kong SAR, People's Republic of China.


A screening programme for expressed breast milk (EBM) revealed the alarming fact that our study group had the highest rate of contamination ever reported. The programme started in July 2002 and involved a group of Chinese women whose premature babies were in the neonatal intensive care unit. EBM was considered to be contaminated if there was any growth of pathogens, including Gram-negative bacteria, enterococci or Staphylococcus aureus, or if the total bacterial count was >10(5) cfu/mL. Of 59 samples from 23 mothers, 63% were contaminated. This high contamination rate could be due to the Chinese tradition of avoiding bathing for one month after childbirth. Previous studies have shown that feeding EBM rather than premature infant formula milk has advantages in terms of decreased incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis and neonatal sepsis. However, in this population, with such a high incidence of contaminated EBM, this may not be the case. Further studies to compare EBM with premature infant formula in this population are required.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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