SPLASH! milk science update: November 2013 issue

This month’s issue shares highlights from the 10th IMGC Symposium, addresses the complicated world of milk composition, tackles the issue of a “normal” infant breastfeeding pattern, and visits African cattle herds and their parasites. Enjoy!

Mega Milk Composition Analysis

Mega Milk Composition Analysis

Fifty years ago Devorah Ben Shaul published the seminal paper "The Composition of the Milk of Wild Animals" (1963). She had spent ten years aggregating published papers of milk composition as well as directly analyzing dozens of species' milks. Eyeballing the data from 101 species, Ben Shaul posited that the composition of milks--the percent fat, protein, and sugar--did not necessarily cluster by the evolutionary history of taxonomic groups (a.k.a. phylogeny). She noted that "grizzly bear milk and kangaroo milk had virtually the same basic milk composition" (p. 333). Therefore, Ben Shaul approached milk from the perspective of environment and nursing behavior. She posited that milks clustered in relation to the degree of maturity at birth, maternal attentiveness and nursing frequency, and the exposure to water and ambient temperature. To learn more about milk composition among mammals, read this. Read More...

Defining Normal Breastfeeding Patterns

Defining Normal Breastfeeding Patterns

Parents need to have realistic expectations of their infant's breastfeeding behaviour to support the decision to breastfeed and avoid unnecessary supplementation. A recent publication on a longitudinal study of infant breastfeeding patterns and breastmilk intake provides much-needed evidence to give parents and health professionals confidence that there is a wide variation in normal breastfeeding behaviour, and also to demonstrate the changes parents can expect during the exclusive breastfeeding period. Read more here. Read More...

Identifying Parasites in African Cattle

Identifying Parasites in African Cattle

When African cattle become lazy and their milk production drops, they are said to have 'nagana'-to be depressed, in Zulu. The biological cause of nagana is a parasite, of which there are several species, and which wiggle around like winding corkscrews under a microscope. To work out how to reduce the damage done by these 'trypanosome' parasites, and thus improve the lot of many poor cattle farmers, we need better diagnostics. Recently, a group of researchers in Vienna invented a means of testing for three different species of trypanosome at the same time. Read about their breakthrough here! Read More...