The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has released a report this week on the safety guidelines of using a breast pump and keeping milk sterile. The report comes after the death of a baby who passed away from a deadly infection caused by an unclean breast pump part.
The infant developed “seizures...cerebral palsy and global developmental delay” from the infection, according to the CDC.
The report suggested that the mother was soaking the breast pump parts in a soapy water basin and then letting them air-dry. The water apparently provided the perfect breeding ground for bad bacteria, which resulted in contaminating the breast pump parts.
“The mother reported typically soaking the collection kit from her personal breast pump in soapy water in a wash basin for five hours, without scrubbing or sanitising. She then rinsed, air-dried, and stored the kit in a plastic zip-top bag until the next use.”
The new guidelines for breast pump hygiene include, before every use:
- Wash hands with soap and water.
- Inspect and assemble clean pump kit. If your tubing is mouldy, discard and replace immediately.
- Clean pump dials, power switch, and counter top with disinfectant wipes, especially if using a shared pump.
After every use:
- Store milk safely. Cap milk collection bottle or seal milk collection bag, label with date and time, and immediately place in a refrigerator, freezer, or cooler bag with ice packs.
- Clean pumping area, especially if using a shared pump. Clean the dials, power switch, and counter top with disinfectant wipes.
- Take apart breast pump tubing and separate all parts that come in contact with breast/breast milk.
- Rinse breast pump parts that come into contact with breast/breast milk by holding under running water to remove remaining milk.
- Do not place parts in sink to rinse.
- Clean pump parts that come into contact with breast/breast milk as soon as possible after pumping.
For extra safety and protection, the CDC also recommends sanitising as a final step.
"Sanitise pump parts, wash basin, and bottle brush at least once daily after they have been cleaned," they note. "Items can be sanitised using steam, boiling water, or a dishwasher with a sanitise setting. Sanitising is especially important if your baby is less than 3 months old, was born prematurely, or has a weakened immune system due to illness or medical treatment."
While caution is important, the CDC notes that infections such as these are extremely rare. However, it's always best to be aware of the possible dangers. CDC gives helpful advice on how to keep the whole family safe and healthy.