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East Afr Med J. 1989 Jun;66(6):381-7.

Bacteriology of unheated expressed breast milk stored at room temperature.


Thirty samples of unheated expressed breast milk (EBM) from thirty lactating mothers, stored at room temperature (RT) and in the refrigerator (at +4 degrees C), were examined for the degree of bacterial contamination at two hourly intervals upto eight hours. All the EBM samples contained bacteria, mostly of normal skin flora; Staphylococcus albus 76.7%; Streptococcus viridans 40%. Potential pathogens were isolated in small numbers: Escherichia coli 26%, Streptococcus faecalis 13.6% and Staphylococcus aureus 6.7%. The bacterial colony counts (BCC) were consistently low; Mean initially 5.438 x 10(3) cfu/mm3 with a range of 0.15-23.1 x 10(3) cfu/mm3 and showed a significant reduction on storage in both EBM samples stored at RT and at +4 degrees C. The study proved that it is safe for mothers to keep unheated EBM at RT for at least eight hours before bacteria can multiply beyond unacceptable levels.

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