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Flash-heating Inactivates HIV in Breast Milk: Study

A study by researchers at the Berkeley and Davis campuses of the University of California has found that flash-heating breast milk infected with HIV successfully inactivates the free-floating virus.

The researchers hope that this technique - heating a glass jar of expressed breast milk in a pan of water over a flame or single burner - will provide hope that mothers with HIV in developing nations will soon be able to more safely feed their babies as it can be easily applied in the homes of mothers in resource-poor communities.

"HIV can be transmitted to the baby via breastfeeding. But for infants in developing countries where infant mortality is already so high from diarrhea and other illnesses, they can't afford to lose the antibodies, other anti-infective agents and the optimal nutrition found in breast milk. This study shows that an easy-to-implement heating method can kill the HIV in breast milk," said Kiersten Israel-Ballard, a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health and lead author of the study.

Studies by researchers led by Kiersten Israel-Ballard have shown that flash-heating breast milk can kill bacteria while retaining most of the milk's nutritional and antimicrobial properties, as well as a majority of its important antibodies.

Researchers undertook the study after HIV-positive women in Zimbabwe asked how they could make their milk safe for their babies. While the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends heat treating HIV-infected breast milk, there has been little research into a simple method that a mother in a developing country could use.

Studies by this research team have shown that flash-heating breast milk can kill bacteria while retaining most of the milk's nutritional and antimicrobial properties, as well as a majority of its important antibodies.

"We wanted to be sure that there was scientific evidence that flash-heated milk was truly free
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