Background: Use of human milk for preterm and high-risk neonates conveys many potential benefits but also poses practical difficulties. This prospective study examined the prevalence and degree of bacterial contamination of human milk used in the intensive care nursery.
Methods: One hundred eight milk samples collected from 40 mothers were tested for contamination. Samples from mothers whose milk showed a high degree of contamination were retested after counseling on collection methods.
Results: Only 12.5% of the samples showed no bacterial growth. Of the contaminated samples, 38% contained > 30,000 colony-forming units/ml. The most common contaminants were Staphylococcus epidermidis (82%) and Acinetobacter (9%), but other contaminants were also encountered.
Conclusions: There were not statistically identifiable common characteristics of mothers whose milk showed abundant bacterial contamination. Only 30% of these mothers showed improvement in the degree of contamination after counseling regarding techniques of milk collection.