NEW mums have been warned NOT to use breast milk which has been frozen for more than a week as it could STRESS OUT their tiny tots.
A report by the National Cheng Kung University Hospital has shown that frozen breast milk develops a sour flavour during storage, which induces infant feeding stress.
This hugely contradicts NHS guidelines which state that expressed breast milk can safely be stored in the freezer for up to six months. They also advise that the milk could be stored at the back of the fridge for up to five days and in the ice compartment for up to two weeks.
Scientists in Taiwan found that the rancid-flavour compounds of the breast milk, namely acid value (AV), and total free fatty acids (FFAs) significantly increased with storage time, all of which reached the sensory threshold for detecting foul tastes in milk.
Breast milk was obtained from ten healthy mums with each sample divided into fresh, 7-day frozen and 30-day frozen samples. The fresh samples were immediately analysed, while the others were frozen in a domestic fridge within a temperature range of -15 to -18 °C and analysed 7 and 30 days later.
The free fatty acids of the breast milk samples frozen for seven days far exceeded the detection threshold for unpleasant flavour, while the 30-day samples were higher than the intolerable level for most people.
Researchers suggested that when infants refuse thawed milk, mums try to provide freshly expressed milk whenever possible or provide breast milk frozen for less than seven days.
Breast milk provides the perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat – everything an infant needs to grow – and is said to be much more easily digested than formula.
Breastfeeding lowers a baby’s risk of developing asthma, allergies, ear infections and respiratory illnesses.
Richard Waters, managing director at Go Assist, said: “While a fridge freezer is a key part of any home, it’s vital that people use one in the correct manner. This report goes against NHS advice and more research is needed to ensure mums who have the responsibility of caring for tiny babies are not wasting their breast milk.
“We advise all homeowners to get their fridge freezers properly serviced at regular intervals even if they believe they are following packaging guidelines to correctly store certain foods.”
The World Health Organisation recommends mums exclusively breastfeed babies for the first six months of their lives, where possible.