Stability of Cortisol and Cortisone in Human Breast Milk During Holder Pasteurization

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Human donor milk is the feeding of choice for preterm infants, when own mother's milk is not available. Holder pasteurization is necessary to secure the safety of donor milk, although it can affect milk quality by reduction of nutritional and bioactive components. Recently, research has focused on the potential role of breast milk glucocorticoids for infant development. At this moment, it is unknown whether pasteurization affects milk glucocorticoid levels. Therefore, we assessed whether Holder pasteurization, the most frequently used method nowadays, reduces breast milk cortisol and cortisone levels, using breast milk samples from 30 women who delivered at term. We found tight correlations between pre- and postpasteurization levels of cortisol (R2 = 0.99) and cortisone (R2 = 0.98), and good agreement in Passing and Bablok regression analysis. In conclusion, cortisol and cortisone in human term breast milk are not significantly affected by Holder pasteurization.

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