Recurrent late-onset neonatal sepsis traced to breast milk: A case report

Abstract: Breast milk feeding is an important late-onset sepsis reduction strategy in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). However, multiple studies have reported transfer of bacteria-contaminated breast milk to infants. We describe a case of culture-positive breast milk resulting in persistent Enterococcus bacteremia in an infant. Beyond the development of an infant’s innate and specific immunity as well as colonization of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract with commensal organisms, the risk of bacterial translocation from the GI tract into the bloodstream is shaped and modified by maternal health, birth history, and an infant’s NICU course. While freezing and/or pasteurizing breast milk reduces or eliminates its bacterial load, it also diminishes its immunologic and nutritional benefits.

*Corresponding Author: 

Steven M. Donn, M.D., F.A.A.P., F.A.A.R.C. 8-621, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital 1540 E. Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-4254 USA. Tel.: +1 734 763 4109; Fax: +1 734 763 7728; E-mail: