Breastfeeding: Does warming breastmilk affect its quality?

Everyone says that microwave heating changes the content or the properties of the milk. I find no evidence to suggest that microwave heating (when done properly) does any more damage to milk than does conventional heating in warm water. Please comment.

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Microwaving breastmilk, or heating it on the stove, can cause a loss of Vitamin C content, along with loss of some of the milk's special anti-infective properties. The higher the temperature, the more pronounced the effect. (Quan R, Yang C, Rubenstein S, et al: Effects of microwave radiation on anti-infective factors in human milk,Pediatrics 89:667, 1992; Sigman M, et al: Effects of microwaving human milk: changes in IgA content and bacterial count, J Am Diet Assoc 89:690-92,1989)

It's important to remember that uneven heat distribution, from microwave warming, resulting in "hot spots" can be hazardous. The center of the fluid may be much hotter and the milk may scald your or your baby.

You do bring up an interesting point. Though parents are told not to microwave breastmilk for several reasons, we often forget to mention that heating milk on the stove can also be problematic.

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