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Fresh Breast Milk The Best For Your Baby

For mothers who read this blog and my twice-weekly eHealthy News You Can Use, you know how important it is to breastfeed your baby and all the health benefits both of you will enjoy if you do.

A new study found fresh breast milk has higher levels of antioxidants than refrigerated or frozen milk. Why? The refrigeration process causes fresh breast milk to lose some of its antioxidant power once it's cooled or frozen.

What's so bad about a few lost antioxidants? Researchers believe those extra antioxidants are especially important for premature babies because they suffer from more oxidative stress than full-term infants do.

To test the antioxidant capacity of breast milk, samples were gathered from 16 mothers within 24 hours of delivery. Half of the mothers delivered their babies at term, and the other half delivered prematurely. Samples were tested for their antioxidant capacity when they were fresh, then after refrigeration for 48 hours and for seven days, and finally after being frozen for 48 hours and for seven days.

Additionally, the researchers tested five different formula samples and found the antioxidant capacity between the different formulas was nearly the same. Also, the researchers found that the antioxidant capacity was similar in the milk from mothers who gave birth prematurely and in mothers whose babies were born at term.

However, antioxidant levels fell in breast milk the longer it was stored. And the colder the sample was, the lower the antioxidant level was. Antioxidant levels in formula remained constant whether fresh, refrigerated or frozen.

Forbes.com October 21, 2004

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