subject: maternal health

Dairy-Containing Supplement Reduces Rates of Stunting in Babies Born in Resource-Poor Communities

Dairy-Containing Supplement Reduces Rates of Stunting in Babies Born in Resource-Poor Communities

Babies born in resource-poor rural and semi-rural communities have a high risk of stunting, that is, being born short for their gestational age. Rates as high as 60% have been documented in one indigenous population in Guatemala. Stunting at birth predicts increased infant and child mortality as well as ongoing growth retardation. Growth retardation in turn carries a higher risk for impaired brain function and loss of economic productivity. In female infants, growth failure presents a greater reproductive risk for themselves and their eventual children due to intrauterine growth restriction. The issue is primarily a consequence of inadequate nutrition, and is considered to be a major public health challenge in developing nations. However, nutrition interventions carried out during the infant and toddler stages have had only limited success in either treating or preventing growth failure. Those aimed at maternal nutrition during pregnancy, primarily focusing on micronutrients, have produced positive, albeit modest, effects on newborn size. Interventions prior to conception have not been well studied in humans, but animal studies have shown promise. Read More...

Drugs to Prevent HIV Infection are Barely Present in Human Milk

Drugs to Prevent HIV Infection are Barely Present in Human Milk

The World Health Organization considers someone with more than a 3% chance of contracting HIV in the next year to have a “substantial” risk of infection. This is important because it is the cut-off for which the WHO recommends taking anti-retroviral drugs, like tenofovir, to reduce the odds of infection. Breastfeeding women in sub-Saharan Africa easily meet this risk threshold. But medical professionals are discouraged from offering the drug to these women because of WHO warning labels about potential adverse reactions in nursing infants. That advice may now change, paving the way for many more at-risk women to receive HIV prophylaxis. A new study shows that when infants consume human milk from a woman taking tenofovir in combination with emtricitabine, they are exposed to extremely low levels of The World Health Organization considers someone with more than a 3% chance of contracting HIV in the next year to have a “substantial” risk of infection. This is important because it is the cut-off for which the WHO recommends taking anti-retroviral drugs, like tenofovir, to reduce the odds of infection. A new study shows that when infants consume human milk from a woman taking tenofovir in combination with emtricitabine, they are exposed to extremely low levels of either drug.drug. Therefore, the infants’ likelihood of experiencing adverse reactions is virtually non-existent. 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...

Maternal Milk Antibodies Prepare Newborn Mice to Host Commensal Gut Microbes

Maternal Milk Antibodies Prepare Newborn Mice to Host Commensal Gut Microbes

Our immune system protects us from many harmful microbes, but in doing so it needs to be able to differentiate between friend and foe. Our bodies harbor many beneficial gut bacteria that play important roles in digestion and immunity, and our immune system needs to react differently to these microbes compared with harmful pathogens. Read More...

Prolactin Targets Intestines Too

Prolactin Targets Intestines Too

Prolactin (PRL) is a hormone that, as its name clearly indicates, PROmotes LACTation. Although it is best known for initiating milk production in the mammary glands, prolactin actually targets numerous other tissues throughout the body during lactation. One important target is the gut, where prolactin is believed to influence calcium absorption. A new study confirms this hypothesis, demonstrating that prolactin increases the ability of the intestines to absorb calcium and transfer it to the bloodstream. These important findings show that although PRL may have the important job of telling the mammary glands to make milk, it also plays a critical role in making sure that milk has all of the necessary ingredients. Read More...

Breastfeeding Protects Women Against Cancer

Breastfeeding Protects Women Against Cancer

Cancer cure or prevention? An enormous amount of research and funding is channeled into finding a cure for cancer, yet less attention is paid to factors that prevent it. Certainly, there is not one magical practice to prevent cancer, as research shows that our cancer risk is influenced by many factors, one of which is breastfeeding. Read More...

Milk and Potatoes Made the World Go Round

Milk and Potatoes Made the World Go Round

Population growth, urbanization and, as a consequence, economic and political development owe much to humankind’s ability to make use of two humble foodstuffs: milk and potatoes. That is the theory put forward by development economist C. Justin Cook, of the University of California, Merced. Read More...

Why Mothers Should Boost Their Vitamin D Intake

Why Mothers Should Boost Their Vitamin D Intake

A mother's milk is the finest food her baby can get, but it's not perfect—or so it seems. It has become clear in recent years that most infants don't get enough vitamin D from breast milk—not by a long shot. Does this mean breast milk is inherently flawed, by some quirk of nature? A new study refutes this common belief by demonstrating that breast milk can indeed provide babies with enough vitamin D if their mother cranks up her vitamin D intake by more than 10 times the currently recommended amount. Read More...

Do Larger Breasts Make More Milk?

Do Larger Breasts Make More Milk?

Large breasts are often considered more attractive, but how about their function as organs destined to produce milk for the nourishment of the baby? During pregnancy and, particularly during lactation, women are mostly interested in their breasts as sources of food and growth signals for their baby. But, especially among women with breastfeeding difficulties, it is common for women to wonder, “If I had larger breasts, would I produce more milk?” Read More...

Success Stories

Success Stories

Anyone involved in healthcare in the United States has probably heard that breastfeeding rates among African American mothers are much lower than those of any other racial grouping. As it happens, breastfeeding initiation rose by 8% in the African American community between 2000 and 2008, but the aforementioned gap still didn’t narrow. Research into the topic tends to focus on why these women aren’t breastfeeding, with studies often emphasizing statistical results, sometimes based on narrowly worded questionnaires. Recently, however, a nurse named Becky Spencer turned this perspective on its head: she has sought to understand African American breastfeeding successes. Read More...

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