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Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2015 May;18(3):269-75. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000160.

Human milk pasteurization: benefits and risks.

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aDepartment of Nutritional Sciences bDepartment of Paediatrics and Neonatology, University of Toronto cPhysiology and Experimental Medicine Program, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto dDepartment of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton eDepartment of Paediatrics, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



Recent findings substantiate that the optimal method of nourishing preterm, very low birth weight infants (VLBW, born <1500 g) is through appropriately nutrient-enriched human milk, which is frequently provided as pasteurized donor milk. The availability of donor milk for VLBW infants during initial hospitalization continues to increase with the launch of new milk banks in North America. The majority of North American neonatal ICUs now have written policies governing the provision of donor milk. The purpose of this review is to summarize recent evidence regarding the risks and benefits of pasteurization of human milk and outcomes associated with its provision to VLBW preterm infants.


Studies investigating the impact of collection, storage and pasteurization on the bacteriostatic, immunologic and nutritional aspects of human milk continue to be published, generally revealing a partial, but not complete reduction in bioactivity. Risk of contamination of pasteurized donor human milk with pathogenic agents is mitigated through pasteurization. New pasteurization methods aiming to maintain the safety of pooled human milk while better preserving bioactivity are under investigation.


Provision of a human milk-derived diet to preterm VLBW infants is associated with improved outcomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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