"Clinical trials are urgently needed to substantiate that mothers can express, flash-heat and store their milk safely, and to test the impact of this method on actual HIV transmission," said Chantry. "What is important about this study is that women have the right to an informed choice. It's amazing to me that in our paternalistic society, people so often readily dismiss the possibility that women would be willing to express and heat their milk to prevent their babies from getting infected with HIV."
Of the 98 samples of breast milk collected from 84 HIV-positive women in Durban, South Africa, only 30 had detectable levels of HIV before heating. Not all breast milk from HIV-positive mothers contains HIV naturally. Milk had been hand expressed into clean, locally purchased glass food jars provided by the researchers.
For each sample of HIV-infected milk, researchers set aside 50 milliliters in the original collection jars and used the remainder as unheated controls. The uncovered jars were placed in a 1-quart pan filled with 450 milliliters of water. The water and milk were heated together over a single-burner butane stove. Once the water reached a rolling boil, the breast milk was immediately removed and allowed to cool.
The researchers checked the temperature of the milk at 15-second intervals and determined that the flash-heated milk reached a peak temperature of 163 degrees Fahrenheit (72.9 degrees Celsius), and typically stayed hotter than 132 degrees Fahrenheit (56 degrees Celsius) for more than six minutes.
Viral analysis of the flash-heated and unheated breast milk found that cell-free HIV had been inactivat
Contact: Sarah Yang
University of California - Berkeley