Topic: breast milk

Feeding the Preterm Infant: Fresh or Processed Breastmilk?

Feeding the Preterm Infant: Fresh or Processed Breastmilk?

This is the million-dollar question when it comes to feeding those infants that are born the most vulnerable. Preterm infants are entirely dependent for their survival on the level of medical care offered to them. Amongst the important decisions to be made by health professionals as to how a baby born preterm will survive is how and what this baby will be fed. Currently, the standard practice in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is to feed preterm babies frozen mother’s own milk, pasteurized donor milk and/or formula, depending on what is available. However, a ground-breaking study by Sun and colleagues has now challenged this well-accepted but poorly researched dogma, showing that fresh mother’s own milk (non-refrigerated, non-frozen, completely unprocessed) is the most beneficial for the preterm baby, just as it is for the term baby. Read More...

Bacterial Count

Bacterial Count

A new study scans breast milk for the different bacterial species found in it. Species that can grow whether or not there is air around them colonize a baby’s intestine first, but are then overrun by other species that flourish in the absence of oxygen, like Bifidobacterium infantis. The class Clostridia can be found in breast milk, and probably travels there from mom’s gut.   Milk enthusiasts probably all share a favorite bacterium: Bifidobacterium infantis, the species that coevolved with humans and promotes a healthy infant gut. Breast milk contains many other kinds of bacteria, but recording the full species register is a surprisingly tricky task. Recently, a team of Swiss researchers did the most complete job yet.   Ted Jost and others1 in the Zurich-based group took milk samples from seven women at three intervals after giving birth, cultured the milk in various ways, and then sequenced the DNA in the milk using multiple techniques. That should cover all the bases. Their culture methods, numbering nine, catered for bacteria of every lifestyle choice. They laced agar jelly with all manner of nutrient mixtures and provided airy compartments for species that like to grow in oxygen. Meanwhile species that flourish despite an absence of oxygen (facultative anaerobes) or can’t handle life in its presence (obligate anaerobes) were given the chance to grow in an anaerobic chamber. Usually, the first kinds of bacteria to set up camp in a baby’s intestine are facultative anaerobes like Escherichia coli species. As expected, Streptococci, another facultative anaerobe, was one of the most common categories identified in Jost et al.’s study. Then, after a few days, when the facultative anaerobes have used up the oxygen in a baby’s gut lumen, populations of obligate anaerobes, like Bifido species, start to take off2. And Bifidobacterium infantis, by far […] Read More...

Tales from an often-ignored community

Tales from an often-ignored community

Breast milk contains bacteria. That much is known. Some studies (although not, alas, the Human Microbiome Project) have even characterized the bacterial community found in milk. But how does the composition of such a community vary among women? And how might it change over the course of lactation? Read More...

When fat is fabulous: Milk & infant neurodevelopment

When fat is fabulous: Milk & infant neurodevelopment

Fat is back, baby! After a pretty extensive smear campaign, fats are now recognized necessities for a healthy, balanced, adult diet. But for infants, fats have always been an essential constituent in mother's milk and formula. Fatty acids are critical structural components of the brain. Read More...

Adiponectin: Mother’s Fat Sends Love Letter to Baby via the Milk Express

Adiponectin: Mother's Fat Sends Love Letter to Baby via the Milk Express

Body fat is not just for buffering us from famine, keeping us warm during winter, and causing our self-recrimination during swimsuit season. Our body fat is also an integral part of our endocrine signaling system. The emerging literature offers compelling insights into maternal hormones, their transfer via milk, and their consequences in the developing neonate. Read More...

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