SPLASH! milk science update: December 2013 issue

This month’s issue addresses the controversy surrounding pregnant moms drinking cow’s milk, how milk composition changes in response to an infant feeding, the breakthrough research regarding the genetic controls behind milk production, and the discovery of a gene that influences the level of protein in cow’s milk. Enjoy!

Cow’s Milk for Breastfeeding Moms

Cow's Milk for Breastfeeding Moms

New mothers are often given a mile-long list of do’s and don’ts, dished out by doctors, families, friends, and even strangers. Somewhere along the way, eating certain foods got put on the “don’t” list. Typical scenario: sleepy new mother eats peanut butter sandwich, mother’s friend reacts as if eating peanuts is akin to balancing one’s child over the food allergy abyss. Read More...

Breastmilk Composition is Dynamic: Infant Feeds, Mother Responds

Breastmilk Composition is Dynamic: Infant Feeds, Mother Responds

Unlike formula, breastmilk composition is dynamic, responding to milk removal that occurs during breastfeeding. This plasticity of breastmilk composition may be key to early infant growth and programming of development. An exciting new study demonstrates how removal of milk by the infant stimulates changes not only in the lipid composition but also the cellular components of breastmilk. This knowledge now sets the basis for new clinical interventions aimed at improving health outcomes of compromised infants, such as those born prematurely. Read More...

Milk-On, Milk-Off

Milk-On, Milk-Off

If we could travel along a chromosome, we would find genes arranged in clusters. Sometimes the genes within the cluster have some shared function, but other times they seem to be randomly organized. Lactation biologists have often wondered how the mammary gland turns on lactation and keeps the milk flowing when needed. In a recent study by Danielle Lemay and her colleagues1, they investigated the potential role of gene cluster arrangement and coordinated control of lactation. Interestingly, they found that the clusters of lactation genes may be more relevant to which genes are turned off during lactation rather than which are turned on. Read More...

Genes for More Proteinaceous Milk

Genes for More Proteinaceous Milk

The world of cattle breeding is one of extremes. With the help of the international postal service, humans have skewed the genetics of the rich world’s cattle herds so much that even the most polygynous elephant seal couldn’t keep up. Just two bulls, ‘Pawnee Farm Arlinda Chief’ (Chief, born in 1962) and his son, ‘Walkway Chief Mark’ (Mark, born 1978), have no fewer than 60,000 daughters between them in Australia, plus countless others elsewhere. This is a blessing for detectives of milk genetics for it makes the task of correlating milk output with complex genomic features much cheaper than it would otherwise be. Read More...