Community and culture
Flash-heating breast milk
Video Transcript, May, 2007
Worldwide, it's estimated that up to 700,000 infants are infected with HIV every year, and up to 90% of those babies are living in developing countries of sub-Saharan Africa. It is estimated that of that amount about 40% of the infections come from breast feeding. We know breast milk is so healthy and really important to help keep these babies alive and give them food, and so what we wanted to find was a very low-tech, very simple form of pasteurization that a mom might be able to do.
Our study looked at breast milk we collected from mothers who are HIV positive in South Africa, and we performed our heat treatment method on this milk. So the method we devised is a form of flash pasteurization, where the idea is to heat the milk hot, and heat it very fast. That is known to kill alot of the pathogens but keep the milk healthy as well.
So all a mother would need to do would be to manually express her milk into a glass jar, she puts that glass jar into an aluminum pan that has water in it, she heats them both very quickly over a high flame, brings the water to a boil and then she removes the jar of milk. What has happened is the water bath has transferred the heat to the milk, the water is visible to the mother and boils, but the milk itself only reaches a certain temperature. What we have found with flash heat is that as the water approaches the boiling point, HIV is inactivated and yet the milk is protected from further destruction.
Our study to date has focused on looking at the safety but certainly we want to start looking at feasibility; can mothers actually do this in the field? They tell us they can, they tell us they would, but now we need to actually see if they can.
Simple Method kills HIV in breast milk
A simple method of flash-heating breast milk infected with HIV successfully inactivated the free-floating virus, according to a new study led by University of California researchers at the Berkeley and Davis campuses.
An editorial by study co-author Barbara Abrams on the importance of flash-heating breastmilk in sub-Saharan Africa was published in the Sep. 2007 issue of "Future HIV Therapy."
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