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Pasteurization of mother's own milk reduces fat absorption and growth in preterm infants


Correspondence Prof. Olle Hernell, Department of Clinical Sciences, Pediatrics, Umeå University, S-901 87 Umeå, Sweden. Tel: +46(0)907852101 | Email:


Aim: A randomized study was conducted to evaluate whether pasteurized milk (Holder pasteurization 62.5°C, 30 min) reduces fat absorption and growth in preterm infants.

Methods: Preterm infants (825–1325 g) born with gestational age ≤30 weeks were randomized into two groups, of which one started with pasteurized own mother's milk for 1 week and continued with raw milk the following week, and a second group was fed in reverse order. By using this design the infants served as their own controls. At the end of each week, a 72-h fat balance was performed and growth was monitored.

Results: We found, on an average, 17% higher fat absorption with raw as compared to pasteurized milk. Infants gained more weight and linear growth assessed as knee–heel length was also greater during the week they were fed raw milk as compared to the week they were fed pasteurized milk.

Conclusion: Feeding preterm infants pasteurized as compared to raw own mother's milk reduced fat absorption. When the infants were fed raw milk, they gained more in knee–heel length compared to when they were fed pasteurized milk.

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