SPLASH! milk science update: March 2017

This month’s issue features mother’s milk that “trains” infant immune cells, dairy fat and lower risk of diabetes, sex-specific mother’s milk, and protective properties of dairy cheese on blood vessels.

Twin Study Suggests Moms Make Sex-Specific Milk

Twin Study Suggests Moms Make Sex-Specific Milk

Lactation biologists have long known that human milk synthesis varies across and within mothers. In the search for sources of this variation, the spotlight has been primarily directed at maternal factors. But it takes two to nurse, and human infants are not simply passive consumers of milk. Infant characteristics, from low birth weight to illness, are known to affect milk synthesis, primarily through an increase in the very ingredients needed to improve infant health, growth, or cognitive development. Human milk appears to be tailored to specific infant needs—one milk does not fit all. Read More...

Dairy Fatty Acids Serve as Markers for Lower Diabetes Risk

Dairy Fatty Acids Serve as Markers for Lower Diabetes Risk

Ask an average citizen how much fatty food they eat, and the response is likely to be a sugar-coated version of the truth. Many studies that search for links between dietary habits and complex diseases face this problem. But what if there were particular molecules that hang around in blood, which could be used to diagnose how much of a relevant foodstuff an individual typically consumes? It would mean that the disease risks attached to eating the food could be stated with greater certainty. This is exactly what Mohammad Yakoob of Harvard Medical School and his colleagues have identified in three fatty acid constituents of dairy products. Analyzing measurements of levels of these fatty acids in the blood of thousands of people enrolled in prospective studies has led these researchers to conclude that dairy fats reduce the risk of diabetes. Read More...

Mothers “Train” Their Babies to Fight Disease

Mothers “Train” Their Babies to Fight Disease

Mothers transmit more than genes to their offspring. Some intergenerational maternal influences can impact newborns through their ingestion of milk, which can enhance their chances of optimal growth and survival. Currently, the accepted opinion is that most of these maternal influences do not persist beyond weaning. However, there are scattered and tantalizing pieces of evidence suggesting there may be some exceptions to acceptance of that opinion. Read More...

Dairy Cheese Protects Blood Vessels from Sodium’s Harmful Effects

Dairy Cheese Protects Blood Vessels from Sodium’s Harmful Effects

Diet plays a major role in influencing cardiovascular health. For instance, increased dairy consumption is associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and lower blood pressure. On the other hand, an increase in dietary sodium—consumed primarily as salt—is associated with increased blood pressure and higher cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Read More...