Infants are surviving at lower gestational ages and lower birth weights and therefore with more compromised immune systems. Furthermore these infants require life saving invasive procedures exposing them to the risk of infection.
The benefits of breast milk for such infants are well proven, with much of the evidence around the reduction of infection.
For this group of infants, breast milk will initially need to be expressed by pump and collected into a bottle via a collection kit. Within Neonatal Units in the UK pumps are usually electric and shared between mothers while bottles are dispos able. Collection kits may be single patient use or autoclaved between mothers. They may be used up to eight times a day and require decontamination between uses. It is this that poses an infection risk.
This article discusses the benefits of breast milk for very low birth weight infants and reviews papers, which discuss decontamination of breast milk expressing equipment.