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Ann Trop Paediatr. 1987 Dec;7(4):233-7.

Bacteriological quality of raw human milk: effect of storage in a refrigerator.

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Department of Paediatrics, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Nigeria.


Eighty-seven breast milk samples were obtained from 63 mothers of infants on the neonatal intensive care unit of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital. The samples were cultured for bacteria immediately after collection (0 h) and then stored in a domestic refrigerator from where cultures were repeated at 6-hourly intervals for 24 h. At 0 h, three (3.4%) of the samples were sterile; 56 (64%) grew coagulase negative staphylococci, and one (1.1%) Streptococcus viridans. Thus, 60 (69%) of the samples were either sterile or contained only skin commensals. Twenty-nine (31%) grew potential pathogens--coagulase positive staphylococci in two (2.3%) and mixed growth of staphylococci, coliforms and klebsiella in 25 (28.3%). During the 24 h storage in the refrigerator, bacteria multiplied in 50 and their growth was inhibited in 32 of the samples. But the mean bacterial count at any time during the 24 h was not significantly different from that at the beginning of the storage in the refrigerator. It is proposed that expressed breast milk stored in a domestic refrigerator can be given safely to infants within 24 h of collection if heavy contamination is prevented at the time of collection.

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