Specimen plastic containers used to store expressed breast milk in neonatal care units: A case of precautionary principle

Mélissa Blouin, Martin Coulombe, Marc Rhainds


Breast milk is the only milk that meets both the nutritional and immunitary needs of infants. Since breastfeeding is widely promoted, public health measures to preserve the nutritional qualities of expressed breast milk (EBM) should be applied in hospital care settings. The Health Technology Assessment Unit (HTAU) of the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Québec was requested by the Neonatal Care Unit to assess the acceptability of a plastic specimen container, designed to harvest tissues and body fluids, for storing collected EBM. An evidence-based public health perspective approach was taken to evaluate the safety of the specimen container. The HTAU recommended that plastic specimen containers no longer be used for storing EBM and that other options should be evaluated for neonatal care units. These recommendations are in accordance with the public health precaution principle and with legal considerations.


Expressed breast milk; storage; plastic container; neonatal care unit; safety and chemical innocuity; precautionary principle

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17269/cjph.105.4369