According to the CDC’s website, “Providing breast milk is one of the best things you can do for your baby’s health and development. Pumping your milk is one way to provide breast milk to your baby. However, keeping the parts of your pump clean is critical, because germs can grow quickly in breast milk or breast milk residue that remains on pump parts. Following these steps can help prevent contamination and protect your baby from infection. If your baby was born prematurely or has other health concerns, your baby’s health care providers may have more recommendations for pumping breast milk safely.”
This announcement and a new set of guidelines were released after the recent and tragic death of a an infant due to a rare infection caused by contaminated breast pump parts due to improper cleaning. The mother reportedly soaked the breast pump parts in soapy water for hours, then let them air dry. Unfortunately, this cleaning method was a breeding ground for bacteria.
As scary as this story is, it is important to note that this baby was born prematurely, so she was more susceptible to the rare infection that caused sepsis, and eventually led to her death. However, it did lead the CDC to look at what guidelines there were for breastfeeding moms in terms of proper pump cleaning, and they found a significant gap.
The new guidelines emphasize the importance of cleaning all of the breast pump parts every single time you pump, inspect and replace worn or moldy parts, and stress the need to wash your hands before each session. Sanitizing once a day is also recommended, “Sanitizing is especially important if your baby is less than 3 months old, was born prematurely, or has a weakened immune system due to illness (such as HIV) or medical treatment (such as chemotherapy for cancer). Daily sanitizing of pump parts may not be necessary for older, healthy babies, if the parts are cleaned carefully after each use.”
A printable Printable Fact Sheet: How to Keep Your Breast Pump Kit Clean and the full guidelines can be found on the CDC website.