Viral, Nutritional, and Bacterial Safety of Flash-Heated and Pretoria-Pasteurized Breast Milk to Prevent Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV in Resource-Poor Countries: A Pilot Study

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Background:Heat-treated breast milk of HIV-positive mothers has potential to reduce vertical transmission. This study compared the impact of flash-heating (FH) and Pretoria pasteurization (PP) on HIV, nutrients, and antimicrobial properties in human milk.Methods:Milk samples were spiked with 1 × 108 copies/mL of clade C HIV-1 and treated with FH and PP. We measured HIV reverse transcriptase (RT) activity before and after heating (n = 5). Heat impact on vitamins A, B6, B12, and C; folate, riboflavin, thiamin, and antimicrobial proteins (lactoferrin and lysozyme) was assessed. Storage safety was evaluated by spiking with Escherichia coli or Staphylococcus aureus.Results:Both methods inactivated ≥3 logs of HIV-1. FH resulted in undetectable RT activity. Neither method caused significant decrease in any vitamin, although reductions in vitamins C and E were noted. Heat decreased immunoreactive lactoferrin (P < 0.05) but not the proportions of lactoferrin and lysozyme surviving digestion. FH seems to retain more antibacterial activity. Both treatments eliminated spiked bacteria.Conclusions:FH may be superior to PP in eliminating all viral activity; both methods retained nutrients and destroyed bacterial contamination. Heat-treated breast milk merits further study as a safe and practical infant feeding option for HIV-positive mothers in developing countries.

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