subject: maternal milk

Feeding the Preterm Infant: Fresh or Processed Breastmilk?

Feeding the Preterm Infant: Fresh or Processed Breastmilk?

This is the million-dollar question when it comes to feeding those infants that are born the most vulnerable. Preterm infants are entirely dependent for their survival on the level of medical care offered to them. Amongst the important decisions to be made by health professionals as to how a baby born preterm will survive is how and what this baby will be fed. Currently, the standard practice in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is to feed preterm babies frozen mother’s own milk, pasteurized donor milk and/or formula, depending on what is available. However, a ground-breaking study by Sun and colleagues has now challenged this well-accepted but poorly researched dogma, showing that fresh mother’s own milk (non-refrigerated, non-frozen, completely unprocessed) is the most beneficial for the preterm baby, just as it is for the term baby. Read More...

Immune Factors in Human Milk Shaped by Mother’s Environment

Immune Factors in Human Milk Shaped by Mother’s Environment

Human milk may be a complex biological fluid, but many of the ingredients that make it so complex are influenced by culture. Milk fatty acids reflect the fat content of the mother’s diet, and milk microbes have been linked to the mother’s diet, antibiotic use, and psychological stress. Now, a new study reports that a mother’s subsistence strategy—that is, the way that mother’s community makes a living—affects the quantity of immune proteins in her milk. Whereas maternal antibiotic use is a novel cultural influence on milk composition, subsistence strategies have influenced the maternal pathogen experience, and likely shaped milk immune factors, throughout human evolutionary history. 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...

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...

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...

Tasmanian Devil Milk Provides Powerful Antibacterial Proteins

Tasmanian Devil Milk Provides Powerful Antibacterial Proteins

The Tasmanian devil is best known for being a swirling, growling, trouble-making cartoon character. But the marsupial mammal's reputation is about to get a complete makeover, thanks to new research on the function of proteins secreted in their milk and their skin. 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...

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...