Oxidative Status of Human Milk and Its Variations During Cold Storage

Biofactors. 2004;20(3):129-37. doi: 10.1002/biof.5520200302.


Breastfeeding and human milk are widely accepted as optimal for human infants' nutrition. Nowadays lifestyle often makes it difficult to maintain or even initiate human lactation. This situation is mostly related to the workload of women away from home. New approaches are needed to enable maternal lactation under these circumstances. Human breastmilk storage for differed use is one possibility. The aim of this study was to assess changes in glutathione peroxidase (GPx) activity and in the concentration of the lipid peroxidation marker, malondialdehyde (MDA), when human milk was kept refrigerated or frozen. Thirty-two human milk samples were assayed for GPx activity and MDA concentration. Samples were divided in three aliquot portions, the first to be immediately analysed, the second to be refrigerated at 4 degrees C and analysed 24 h thereafter, and the third to be frozen at -20 degrees C and assayed after 10 days. GPx activity was significantly decreased in refrigerated and in frozen milk, when compared to their control samples. MDA was increased only in refrigerated milk but not in frozen samples. Thus, freezing seems better than refrigeration in order to prevent lipid peroxidation in stored human milk samples.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Female
  • Food Handling / methods*
  • Food Preservation / methods*
  • Freezing
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / analysis
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Malondialdehyde / analysis
  • Malondialdehyde / metabolism
  • Milk, Human / chemistry
  • Milk, Human / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Refrigeration
  • Time Factors


  • Antioxidants
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Glutathione Peroxidase