subject: breastfeeding

Biochemical Evidence that Breastfeeding Reduces the Odds of Diabetes

Biochemical Evidence that Breastfeeding Reduces the Odds of Diabetes

What percentage of people with diabetes have yet to be diagnosed? In one advanced democracy with a good public health system—the United Kingdom—the figure is thought to be about 20%. Common sense suggests that in countries where healthcare is not free at the point of use, this percentage is probably higher. Because so many people who have diabetes do not know it, studies of diabetes that rely on self-reported cases always come with a sliver of doubt. This is why some newly published research by Erica P. Gunderson of Kaiser Permanente, and her colleagues, is important. It is the first long-term study—using biochemical diagnosis—to show that breastfeeding reduces the odds of a woman developing diabetes. Read More...

Milk is Alive with Mom’s Cells

Milk is Alive with Mom’s Cells

Surprises upturn accepted routines and demonstrate how little we really know. A new class of immune cell type, innate lymphoid cells (ILCs), was recently and unexpectedly discovered in fresh breast milk, and it promises to radically alter scientists’ understanding of how milk protects babies from infections, and possibly much more. The ground-breaking scientific paper [1] describing this discovery was recently published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association - Paediatrics by Babak Baban and three colleagues from Augusta University. The paper has the modest but revealing title “Presence and Profile of Innate Lymphoid Cells in Human Breast Milk.” Read More...

Relationship Between Breastfeeding and Allergies: It’s Complicated

Relationship Between Breastfeeding and Allergies: It’s Complicated

The past few decades have seen a steady rise in the worldwide prevalence of allergic diseases, which has spurred research aimed at figuring out ways to prevent allergies [1]. The first six months of life are thought to offer a window of opportunity for preventing allergies. “Nowadays, most researchers and clinicians are trying to aim at this window of opportunity,” says Professor Daniel Munblit of Imperial College London, Sechenov University, and inVIVO Planetary Health. Read More...

The Woman Helping Military Moms Breastfeed

The Woman Helping Military Moms Breastfeed

Back in the 1990s, when she had her first child, Robyn Roche-Paull was an aircraft mechanic in the United States Navy. She knew she wanted to breastfeed as long as possible, but her maternity leave was six weeks long, and then, in theory, she could be deployed to any part of the world. At that time, there was no military policy to facilitate pumping at her workplace, though she persevered. She would pump in the supply closet or the bathroom. “It was very, very difficult. The outlet I needed to plug my pump in was right by the bathroom door, and people would come in an out all the time—so the door was always opening to the hallway, with me standing right there,” she explains. Read More...

Colostrum Through a Cultural Lens

Colostrum Through a Cultural Lens

In the first hours and days after a human baby is born, mothers aren't producing the white biofluid that typically comes to mind when we think about milk. They synthesize a yellowish milk known as colostrum or "pre-milk." Colostrum is the first substance human infants are adapted to consume, and despite being low in fat, colostrum plays many roles in the developing neonate. Historically and cross-culturally, colostrum was viewed very differently than it is amongst industrialized populations today. Read More...

Milk for Ill and Pre-Term Infants

Milk for Ill and Pre-Term Infants

Unadulterated, fresh, and straight from the breast, experts agree that human milk is the best option for healthy infants. Not only does it provide the macronutrients essential to fuel and build young bodies, it actively stops infants from getting sick by dosing them with immunoglobulins and sugars that are indigestible by humans. A recent review offers a summary aimed at clinicians about how human milk may be modified to cater for the particular needs of pre-term and sick infants. Read More...

From Bench to Bedside: Translating Milk Science at the Clinician-Patient Interface

From Bench to Bedside: Translating Milk Science at the Clinician-Patient Interface

Emerging empirical research from chemistry, microbiology, animal science, nutrition, pediatrics, and evolutionary anthropology is accelerating our understanding of the magic of milk. Understanding the context and experiences of mothers of different races highlights the persistence of health care deficits that perpetuate breastfeeding disparities. 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...

Human Milk Makes People Smarter at Age 30

Human Milk Makes People Smarter at Age 30

Experts generally agree that consuming human milk as opposed to formula during infancy has a beneficial effect on brain development, and consequently, a beneficial effect on intelligence. Although there are swathes of studies on this topic, often the methods available to researchers are criticized—and imperfect methods make drawing firm conclusions risky. Furthermore, almost all studies in this field test intelligence during childhood and teenage years only, even though we know that cognitive functions continue to develop well into adulthood. Without data from older study participants, the field cannot be certain that people who do not receive human milk in early life don’t catch up on cognitive development later. Read More...

Breast Milk, the Synchronizer

Breast Milk, the Synchronizer

Consuming a glass of warm milk before bed is supposed to make you sleep well. This old wives’ tale is repeated on websites that offer health and nutritional advice, often backed up by the detail that milk contains tryptophan, the amino acid that is the reason eating turkey purportedly makes you sleepy. But the reality is much more complex. In fact, several compounds in milk appear to have a soporific effect. And perhaps the most intriguing thing about them is that their levels alter with the time of day that the milk is produced. Read More...