SPLASH! milk science update: November 2016 Issue

This month’s issue features how high-fat yogurt lowers the risk of depression in women, how breastfeeding may help infants at risk of autism, how human milk helps preterm infants at risk of retinopathy, and how more serotonin in cows diminished milk fever.

Eating High-Fat Yogurt is Associated with a Lower Risk of Depression in Women

Eating High-Fat Yogurt is Associated with a Lower Risk of Depression in Women

Over the past few years, researchers have found several intriguing links between diet and mental health. For example, unhealthy diets have been associated with a higher risk of developing depression, while healthy diets may instead have a protective effect. These effects are thought to be at least partly mediated by the gut microbiome and may be influenced by both prebiotics and probiotics. Read More...

Breastfeeding Molds Eye Contact in Infants at Risk of Autism

Breastfeeding Molds Eye Contact in Infants at Risk of Autism

There is a version of a gene called CD38 that has a curious association with human behavior. This is because CD38 activity influences the release of the hormone oxytocin, occasionally nicknamed the “love” hormone but more broadly understood as a modulator of empathy and trust. Oxytocin is also found in breast milk. For this reason, a recent study reports that the longer infants who are genetically predisposed to produce low levels of oxytocin are exclusively breastfed, the more they behave as though their brains made normal amounts. With additional research, this insight could offer a means of reducing the odds of developing autism among people born with this particular genetic risk factor. Read More...

Human Milk Lowers Risk of Retinopathy Among Preterm Infants

Human Milk Lowers Risk of Retinopathy Among Preterm Infants

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a common affliction of very young preterm infants that can lead to blindness. It occurs when the blood supply to the retina develops abnormally. In some cases, this problem is so severe it can cause the retina to detach from the back inner wall of the eye. Decades ago, medical researchers demonstrated a difficulty in the care of the tiniest preterm infants: supplying these infants with lots of oxygen improved their chances of survival, while at the same time increasing their risk of ROP. A recent meta-analysis, however, offers more straightforward advice to neonatal intensive care units: Providing human milk to a very young preterm infant—whatever amount is available—significantly reduces the risk of the disease. Read More...

Happy Cows to Reduce Milk Fever

Happy Cows to Reduce Milk Fever

Serotonin is best known to us as a brain factor that affects mood, with high levels associated with euphoria. However, it has much wider effects in the body, influencing gut motility, blood vessels, and osteoporosis. To scientists, this points to an interaction with calcium, and as we all know, calcium is an important component of milk and dairy products. So does serotonin influence milk calcium, and could the mood of cows affect milk production? Recent research by scientists in Wisconsin suggests that serotonin has an effect on regulating calcium in the important transition period from late pregnancy through lactation. Read More...