The New Breast Pumping Guidelines From The CDC - What You Should KnowThe CDC has recently published new breast pumping guidelines after the tragic death of an infant. After feeding from a bottle, the infant contracted a rare and extremely dangerous infection due to contaminated pump parts. This sparked a thorough investigation, including looking into the information currently available to nursing moms.

The investigation revealed a surprising lack of guidance regarding how to safely clean pumping equipment. So, to help avoid another tragedy, the CDC has introduced its own set of guidelines.

Here, you’ll discover everything you need to know about these new breast pumping guidelines from the CDC.

What Are The New Guidelines?

The new CDC breast pumping guidelines include eight vital steps to ensure you’re correctly cleaning the pump parts. They include:

Step 1 – Before handling the pump, be sure to wash your hands before wiping the outside of the pump with disinfectant wipes.

Step 2 – Once it’s been used, take the pump apart and rinse each section in running water. Never put the parts directly into your sink.

Step 3 – Clean the parts in a basin of hot, soapy water, with a clean brush which is used exclusively for the pump parts. Or, place them in the dishwasher. This should be done as quickly as possible after use.

Step 4 – Rinse the parts off under the tap and avoid putting them back in the basin.

Step 5 – Leave the parts to air dry on a clean towel. Do not try to rub the parts dry with the towel as this can cause germs to spread.

Step 6 – While the parts are air-drying, rinse the brush and basin you used to clean them. It’s important to wash the brush and basin every few days. Like the pump parts, they should then be left to air-dry.

Step 7 – If you choose to wash the parts in the dishwasher, you’ll want to make sure it’s on a sanitizing or heated drying cycle, along with a hot wash. Once the cycle has finished, be sure to wash your hands again before handling the clean parts and place them to air dry if needed, on a clean towel.

Step 8 – Once the parts are completely dry, store them in a protected, clean area.

If you follow these eight steps, you’ll significantly reduce the risk of contamination. It’s a lot of work, but following these cleaning guidelines could literally save your baby’s life, so when you look at it like that, the extra work becomes worthwhile!

Why Are The New Guidelines So Important?

Although the recent tragedy is rare, it highlighted the very real dangers which can come from not cleaning pump parts efficiently. Babies have a very limited and underdeveloped immune system. This means, they can easily pick up infections. Most parents know to keep their baby away from anyone who has a cold or virus, but they have no idea about the potential dangers lurking in their own home.

When not washed correctly, pump parts can be a breeding ground for potentially deadly germs. This can lead to the development of a Cronobacter infection. It’s pretty rare, with the CDC reporting around 4-6 cases of the infection each year. However, it’s thought some cases of the infection may go unreported.

It’s not just the Cronobacter infection parents need to be wary of. The pump parts can contain many other types of germs which can contaminate the milk, causing baby to get sick.

In the tragic case where an infant died due to a Cronobacter infection, the mother reportedly left the pump parts to soak in hot, soapy water. After a few hours, she would rinse them off. It is thought the soapy water provided an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. It’s something a lot of parents do, due to a lack of guidance and information pertaining to the possibility of infection.

In the report provided by the CDC, it mentions the mother fed her baby donor milk. This caused a little confusion amongst parents who believed the infection must have come from the donor milk, rather than the pump. It’s true that donor milk can become contaminated if it isn’t transported properly. However, in this case the deadly bacteria was found in the sink, on the parts themselves, and in the milk. So, the fact it was donor milk played no part in the tragedy, meaning parents who only use expressed milk still need to be wary of the dangers.

Be Wary Of Pumping Hacks

Let’s face it, pumping can be extremely frustrating. So anything which makes it a little easier has to be worth trying. However, there’s a lot of pumping hacks out there which could expose your baby to the Cronobacter infection.

In particular, there’s a hack which suggests leaving the pump parts in the refrigerator in-between feeds. That way, you don’t have to clean it as often. Now, this can work well if the pump parts aren’t contaminated and they’ve been cleaned properly. However, it’s still a risk so experts do suggest washing the parts, following the new CDC guidelines, after every use.

It’s especially important to ensure the pump is cleaned properly if your baby is premature. They have a much weaker immune system and if they do develop an infection, it’s much more likely to be deadly.

Another hack to be aware of is the use of wet wipes to clean the pump when you haven’t got access to proper facilities. It could be you’re a working mom and you don’t have a clean, sterile place to clean the pump parts. Some websites suggest using wet wipes to quickly clean the pump, but the truth is these wipes won’t reach all of the parts. The areas they don’t clean will quickly become a breeding ground for bacteria. So, instead it’s recommended you invest in another pump or two, so you can use a clean pump for each extraction. Then you can clean them thoroughly when you get home.


Overall, while the recent tragedy will understandably case parents to worry about the dangers of pumping, it’s important to realize that it’s still considered a safe, beneficial process. Breast milk is always better for baby, so pumping if you can’t feed from the breast, is always recommended by experts. As long as you follow the new guidelines, you won’t have to worry as much about the Cronobacter infection.

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  1. Thank you CDC for creating this guidelines that serves as reminder as well most specially to breastfeeding mothers out there. The priority of this article is SAFETY, with this guidelines prevention of infection is initiated . Newborn are prone to viruses, harmful bacteria that leads to infection particularly CRONOBACTER INFECTION. We as parents should follow this guidelines for the benefit of our newborn. Breastfeeding will always be number 1 but there are some problems mother encounter like inverted nipple so they are required to pump. The health of the baby is upon in your hands.

    1. Yes, the benefits of breastfeeding should never be underestimated. Moms are advised to breastfeed as long as baby wants it. The benefits are numerous. But sometimes, working moms would have to pump their breast before leaving for work so these guidelines are very timely. The baby’s health is a topmost priority but breastmilk would be rendered useless and hazardous if it becomes contaminated. Breast pumping moms should be made aware of this.

  2. I will be happy to see nursing mothers follow the recent guideline as regards breast pumping for the baby. I’m really sad to read that a baby died as a result of not following the guideline.

    I pray the family get the heart to bear the loss. One of the things I hate in life is infant death which is the reason I remain grateful for joining this forum.

    1. Yes, every breastfeeding and breast pumping mom should become aware of these guidelines and put them to use. The baby’s health should never be put at risk because of carelessness. I would say, no job or errand is worth risking a baby’s life for.

  3. This is one amongst many articles I come across on this site that speaks on subjects which are either new to me or unfamiliar with.

    Breast pumping is one way of feeding an infant that is rarely seen where I come from. The old fashioned way remains the best option for nursing mothers regardless of the enenvironment in Nigeria.

    Going back to your post, I think nursing mothers should try as much as possible to put in place or follow a careful guideline, those of which you pointed out in your post, when using the breast pumping method. It’s heartbreaking to hear of a baby’s death as result of situations like this. By saying so, I think your points are recommendable for every nursing mother.

    1. It’s true. Stories like what we have here are heartbreaking. I don’t think any parent could actually get over the pain of losing a child. And what’s worse about this incident is that it was caused by something that’s supposed to keep the baby healthy – breastmilk.

      Mishandling breast pumping could indeed cause something terrible. With these guidelines, we hope more parents become truly aware of safety habits when breast pumping.

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