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A total of 1099 breastmilk donations received by the milk bank at the Amiens University Hospital from January to June 2016 were assessed for bacteriological contamination according to French regulations. This consisted in enumerating the total aerobic flora before and after heat treatment as well as the specific enumeration of coagulase-positive staphylococci. Results above the mandatory limits for at least one of these parameters were found in 25.9% of the donations, resulting in the destruction of approximately one-quarter of the volume of the donations (∼195L). This is a huge loss in both economic and health-related terms for neonates, especially for pre-terms. To identify ways to improve the bacteriological assessment results and reduce the percentage of discarded milk, an analysis of the causes was conducted. The two main causes of non-compliance were the detection of a cultivable aerobic flora after heat treatment and the presence of coagulase-positive staphylococci above the mandatory limit (11.7% and 11.2% of the tested donations, respectively). Bacillus spp. were the leading cause of post-heat-treatment non-compliance. Therefore, the implementation of better environmental control could help reduce this kind of contamination. As for samples harboring coagulase-positive staphylococci, a further detection of toxins using molecular biology techniques could help discriminate actual health-hazardous donations that have to be destroyed while enabling the use of toxin-negative donations. Nevertheless, the economic viability of this proposal needs to be further assessed because these techniques are costly. Finally, a change in breastmilk dilutions used to enumerate the total aerobic flora to better reflect the actual level of these bacteria in the milk was proposed. Indeed, the comparison of various combinations of milk dilutions led to the conclusion that the association of the 1/10 and 1/100 dilutions was the best compromise between technical ease of enumeration and ensuring the safety of the donations. Implementing these suggestions would help reduce the rate of non-compliance and give better access to safe breastmilk donations for neonates.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Human milk, Human milk bank, Microbiological screening, Compliance, Pasteurization, Safety