Microwaves action on milk for infants

larson eric elarson at ux1.cso.uiuc.edu
Sat Jan 7 09:38:39 EST 1995

scorteel at resulb.ulb.ac.be (Stephane Corteel) writes:

>As a young father (my baby now is 7 weeks old) I read a lot...
>I've read (and some people also told me) that warwing up a feeding
>bottle using a microwave oven is not recommended because the microwaves
>cause molecular changes in some proteins of the milk.
>But, at this time, nobody could confirm that or give me an more
>scientific explanation.

>If someone could provide me a answer that an engineer like me can
>accept, it would be very nice.
The only reasonable explnation would be differential heating. 
Microwaves don't penetrate foods and fluids more than an inch or so before
they are absorbed.  This means a large microwave oven would need to overheat the
outside 1 inch of a potatoe to ensure that the middle would recieve heat in
a timely fashion by conduction.
The ONLY reasonable change that would be occurring to the milk in the
microwave is that of overheating.  Boil milk on the stove and it changes,
likewise for milk in the microwave.  The changes that heat will cause in
the milk proteins is pretty close to the changes in the protein structure
that will occur when the milk gets acidified in the babies stomach.  The
milk isn't "damaged" in the sense that it is any less safe to drink -- the
flavor and consistency will change a bit if you overheat, but that's about
If the baby drinks the milk, I wouldn't worry about it.  Milk is pasteurized
by brief heating.  I remember when we were in a foreign country, my father
would pasteurize milk with a device called the volcano (at least we called
it this.)  Boiled milk would spill out of a central funnel and slop over
the edges.  At the time, I thought the milk tasted "funny", but years later
I learned it was usual for different areas of the country/world to produce
different tasing milk (depends on the feed, etc.)

Eric Larson                  | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
USDA/Agronomy                | 190 PABL; 1201 W. Gregory; Urbana, IL 61801
elarson at ux1.cso.uiuc.edu     | Voice 217.244.3079  Fax 217.244.4419
Fidonet: 1:233/4.1           | My opinions are my own, but correct :-) 

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