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J Pediatr. 1985 Aug;107(2):240-3.

Bacteriostatic qualities of human milk.


A practical concern of the working mother is the bacteriostatic quality of human milk over time without benefit of refrigeration. Therefore, quantitative cultures of human milk stored at room temperature were performed at 0, 2, 4, 6, and 24 hours after expression. Milk from 10 mothers less than six days postpartum (colostrum) and from 10 mothers 7 to 42 weeks postpartum (mature milk) was studied. The number of colony-forming units per milliliter of milk cultured at 0 time did not significantly increase in mature milk after 6 hours nor in colostrum after 24 hours of storage at room temperature. Thus, mothers who express milk for their own infants while at work may assume that the bacterial contamination of their milk will not increase significantly for up to but no longer than 6 hours after expression, even if they have no access to refrigeration.

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