Review of guidelines on expression, storage and transport of breast milk for infants in hospital, to guide formulation of such recommendations in Sri Lanka Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND:Sick newborns in neonatal units who are unable to breastfeed are fed expressed breast milk. In Sri Lanka, most mothers stay in hospital throughout baby's stay to provide this milk freshly. In other countries mothers go home, express breast milk at home and bring it to hospital. There are concerns about the safety of transported expressed milk if used in a tropical middle-income country. The aim of this paper is to compare and contrast advice offered by different hospitals and organizations on how to express, store and transport breast milk safely. METHODS:We assessed guidelines used by hospital staff of the four Level 3 neonatal units in Melbourne, Australia, National Health Service UK, guidelines and training manuals of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, the World Health Organization and an information leaflet from Family Health Bureau, Sri Lanka. Information on breast milk expression, storage and transport provided by the guidelines were tabulated under seven topics: general information; container for milk collection; hand expression; using a pump for expression; storage; thawing / warming; and transport of expressed breast milk. The AGREE II tool was used to assess the guidelines written for hospital staff. RESULTS:There was considerable agreement on most recommendations provided by these sources, but no single source covered all topics in full. Most recommend hand expression as the initial method for expressing of breast milk, followed by breast pump use, except the Sri Lankan recommendations which strongly discourages the use of breast pumps. Durations of storage under various conditions are generally similar in the different recommendations. Most guidelines recommend a 'cool box' or container with ice or freezer packs for transportation of milk. CONCLUSION:A single document containing recommendations on all aspects of expressing, storing and transporting breast milk should be available for each unit, with the same basic information for mothers and the healthcare staff and further technical details for staff if required. The Sri Lankan recommendations need to be updated based on current worldwide practices and further studies are needed to establish a safe method of transport of expressed breast milk in Sri Lanka.

publication date

  • 2018