Bacterial stability with freezer storage of human milk
J Perinat Med
© 2020 De Gruyter. All rights reserved. Human milk supports the development of a beneficial newborn intestinal microflora. We have shown previously that human milk had reduced bacteria but unchanged nutrient composition when stored at -20 °C for up to nine months. We suspected declining bacterial colony counts were manifestations of bacterial dormancy and not failure of survival. We investigated differences in selected bacterial colony counts (lactobacillus, bifidobacteria, staphylococcus, streptococcus and enterococcus) in human milk stored for 2 and 12 weeks at -20 °C in either manual or automatic defrost freezers and whether reduced bacterial counts at 12 weeks were the result of dormancy or failure of survival. Freshly expressed milk was obtained from mothers in the NICU, divided into aliquots and stored for 2 and 12 weeks at -20 °C in either automatic or manual defrost freezers. Subsequently, duplicate aliquots, one thawed and the other thawed and maintained at room temperature for 4 h, were plated to assess bacterial colony counts. Significant declines in bacterial colony counts were seen from 2 to 12 weeks freezer storage for all bacteria. There were no differences in colony counts between freezer types. Once thawed, no further bacterial growth occurred. Short-term freezer storage for 12 weeks resulted bacterial killing. Type of freezer used for storage did not have an impact on bacterial survival. It is unknown whether the paucity of important probiotic bacteria in stored human milk has adverse effects on infants.
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