Korean J Perinatol.  2006 Jun;17(2):189-194.

Bacterial Colonization of Breast Milk and the Presence of Infection in Premature Infants

  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Ulsan University Hospital, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Ulsan, Korea. cardios@hanmail.net


To determine the safety of ingestion of breast milk-associated bacteria for premature infants, we investigated the rate of breast milk contamination and incidence of the infection in premature infants on breastfeeding.
Medical records were retrospectively reviewed for premature infants 28 weeks of gestation or more, who breast milk-fed and admitted at Ulsan University Hospital during 2004~2005. The results of bacterial culture in expressed breast milk, presence of infection (sepsis, urinary tract infection and necrotizing enterocolitis), and potential compounding variables were abstracted from medical records. The clinical characteristics of premature infants who ingested breast milk-associated bacteria were compared with the controls.
Among 125 samples of breast milk for bacterial culture, 85 (68%) revealed the growth of bacteria Staphylococcus epidermidis (56%), Bacillus spp. (3.2%), Klebsiella spp. (3.2%), Acinetobacter spp. (2.4%), Enterobacter cloaca (1.6%), etc. Among 64 infants breast milk-fed, 36 were revealed to have ingested breast milk-associated bacteria, and 28 were fed with clean breast milk. There were no differences in incidence of sepsis, urinary tract infection and necrotizing enterocolitis between the two groups.
We suggest that breast milk feeding might be safe for premature infants even if it is contaminated with some of bacteria. A Larger scale of investigation is required in order to study further for this important topic.


Infants; Premature; Milk, Human; Contamination; Colonization, Infections
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