Differences in Current Procedures for Handling of Expressed Mother's Milk in Danish Neonatal Care Units

Marie Bendix Simonsen, Nana Hyldig, Gitte Zachariassen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Mother's own milk (MOM) is preferred when feeding preterm infants. When expressed mother's milk is stored and handled, there is a risk of bacterial contamination, decreased immunological activity, and less nutritional potential. PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to investigate current routines when handling MOM in Danish neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). METHODS: A survey was sent to all 17 NICUs in Denmark in which current practices regarding human milk handling, storage, and preparation were evaluated. Furthermore, one question sought to establish when mother's milk was believed to be colostrum. Respondents of the survey were neonatal nurses. RESULTS: All 17 units responded to the survey. Only 5 of 17 units answered that human colostrum was defined as milk from the first week after birth. Refrigerator storage time varied between 24 and 72 hours. In 6 of 17 units, parents were in charge of mixing milk and fortifier. Heating of human milk was done by using microwave ovens in 4 of 17 of the units. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: This national survey established that there is significant variability in the way mother's milk is handled. Some of the procedures performed may affect the quality of the milk. It is important to implement evidence-based practice regarding storage and handling of expressed mother's milk to ensure that the quality of the milk is the best possible alternative for all preterm infants. IMPLICATIONS FOR RESEARCH: Prospective studies are needed to examine the association between handling of human milk and changes in composition and nutritional potential of the milk.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvances in neonatal care : official journal of the National Association of Neonatal Nurses
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)452-459
Publication statusPublished - 1. Dec 2019


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