Evidence for the health benefits of breast feeding have led to an increase in breastfeeding mothers. Breast milk is the natural first food for babies. It provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life (WHO). It is essential to store breast milk under optimal conditions in order for it to remain free of bacteria and nutrient rich.
Bacterial contamination and degradation of milk components are the two most concerning questions when it comes to breast milk storage. Bacterial contamination of breast milk may pose a significant risk of infection to infants whose immune systems are immature. Moreover, prolonged storage under improper conditions has proven to reduce milk’s stability and nutritional value. Proper storage and handling can significantly reduce any risk of infection and is essential to maintain the safety and efficacy of expressed breast milk.
Refrigeration plays an important role in keeping milk safe and healthy. Refrigeration at 4°C has shown to significantly reduce the risk of bacterial contamination and slow down the degradation of milk components. Hospitals across the country are storing the tiniest, most vulnerable patient’s milk in various types of refrigerators. Not all of these refrigerators are able to keep milk at stable temperatures. In addition, many of these refrigerators have hot and cold spots, making some locations within the cabinet inadequate for the storage of milk.
We evaluated three compact refrigerators marketed for mother’s milk storage in order to assess the differences in performance, particularly uniformity. What we found, was that not all medical-grade, compact refrigerators provide the temperature stability and uniformity one would expect from a purpose-built unit. View the results of this evaluation by downloading the article.