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Breast Milk

QUESTION:

Can a mother who is living with HIV freeze or boil the breast milk before giving it to her child to kill the virus?

ANSWER:

There has been no research done on freezing to destroy HIV, so we cannot say whether this is a safe measure.

We do have research to show that heating the breast milk to at least 56 degrees Centigrade (just above "warming") for 30 minutes does destroy HIV. If a mother were heating (pasteurizing) her own milk on the stove top, she would do it like home canning. Put the milk in glass jars with water-proof screw lids. Put them on a rack in a pot of water (the rack keeps the glass from overheating and cracking, but it is recommended to use canning jars with tempered glass). Fill the pot so the water covers the jars above the line of the milk. Heat until the water is lightly bubbling on the edges of the pan and let it sit like that for 30 minutes. Then the jars of milk should be chilled quickly and can be refrigerated or frozen until the baby needs them.

There is a company in Great Britain, ACE Intermed, which makes a small thermos pasteurizer for individual use. It sells for about US$75. The website to purchase it is: http://www.ace-intermed.com/products.htm

Keep in mind that in many parts of the world, it may be difficult to follow the above procedures due to lack of money and equipment. And in any case, it is recommended that a mother living with HIV who would like to use her own breast milk should consult a qualified doctor to discuss the above procedures and how to ensure that the milk is properly pasteurized.


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Date Created June 06, 2006
Author Admin
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