New Guidelines for Breast Milk Storage

Summary of the report “ABM Clinical Protocol #8: Human Milk Storage Information for Home Use for Full-Term Infants, Revised 2017” published in Breastfeeding Medicine[i]

[i] Eglash, A., L. Simon and The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. (2017). ABM Clinical Protocol #8: Human Milk Storage Information for Home Use for Full-Term Infants, Revised 2017. Breastfeeding Medicine 12(7): 390-395




This report summarizes several studies conducted over the years, and categorizes the topic of Human Milk Storage in three main areas throughout the process from extraction to the actual feeding:

Preparation for Human Milk Storage.


First, whether hand or pump milk expression, women should clean their hands with soapy water, or hand sanitizer (if their hands don’t seem dirty) before milk expression. Clean hands avoid transmission of viruses and bacteria to human milk, which may cause different illnesses.


Second, there are several types of containers in the market specially designed for human milk storage. They are usually presented in glass, polyethylene, polypropylene, polycarbonate, or polyethersulfone bottles or bags. Each of them present a significant reduction in fat, and an increase of protein and carbohydrate concentrations in human milk. Therefore, they should be well-sealed and stored in a safe area of the freezer or refrigerator, with minimal risk of damage, due to spills or punctures. Containers made of bisphenol A and S should be avoided.


Third, containers of human milk storage and breast pumps should be completely dismantled, and washed with abundant soapy water; they also may be washed in the dishwasher; they do not need to be sterilized. They should be air dried or dried with paper towels. It is not recommendable to use chemical disinfection, due to potential risks for the infant for ingesting residuals.

Storage of Human Milk.


The following table summarizes the storage guidelines regarding location, temperature and time.




In addition to the previous guidelines, there are other aspects to take into account when it comes to human milk storage:


First, the smell of human milk after refrigerated or frozen may change, and this is due to a process of oxidation of fatty acids called lipolysis, which actually prevents the growth of microorganisms.


Second, every container should be labeled with the date of milk expression, and not filled to the top to allow expansion by freezing.


Third, do not mix fresh milk with refrigerated or frozen milk. Just cool down the new one before adding it to the older stored one.


Using Stored Human Milk.


Finally, it is important to consider the following aspects:


Containers and feeding devices should be carefully cleaned with soapy water. For healthy infants there’s no need to sterilize them.Fresh milk preserves most of the nutritional and immunological qualities, compared to stored milk.Thawing of frozen milk should be done either by placing the container in the refrigerator for several hours, or by placing the container under running warm water. To warm thawed milk, it is recommended to place the container in lukewarm water for about 20 minutes. Microwave is NOT recommended.Thawed milk should not be left out to room temperature for more than 2 hours, and should be used within the next 24 hours.It is not recommended to refreeze human milk, since there are not enough studies regarding bacterial growth and the loss of nutritional properties in such conditions.Once the infant starts to drink from a bottle of expressed human milk, it is recommended to discard any remains after 1-2 hours.There’s no evidence that the stored milk of a mother with yeast or bacterial breast infection, should be discarded. However, if the milk seems stringy, foul, or purulent, it should be discarded and not given to the infant.


*For the original article, consult: www.bfmed.org http://www.bfmed.org/Media/Files/Protocols/Protocol%208%20Human%20Milk%20Storage%20-%20English%20translation.pdf

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