subject: milk

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...

Human Milk’s Lutein Content Adds to the Evidence for Breastfeeding

Human Milk’s Lutein Content Adds to the Evidence for Breastfeeding

Everyone knows that fruit and vegetables are crucial components of a healthy diet, but few have heard of lutein, a substance that is structurally similar to vitamin A and found in spinach and kale. Because the human body cannot make lutein, the amount that one swallows determines how much is available to protect the skin from ultraviolet light, lower the risk of some cancers, and—if relevant—moderate the progression of atherosclerosis. There is also mounting evidence that lutein is important in fetal and infant development. Fetuses and infants receive lutein directly from their mother—via blood that passes through the placenta, and by consuming human milk. Read More...

Assessing the Evidence Around Perfluoroalkyl Substances

Assessing the Evidence Around Perfluoroalkyl Substances

For approximately the past decade, scientists have started to wonder about potential hazards that could be posed to human health from chemicals collectively known as perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These chemicals are widespread in the environment globally—they have been used in manufacturing products such as food packaging and textile coatings since the 1950s, and are now detectable in the food chain, and even in dust and dirt. Since these chemicals can accumulate in the body, researchers are studying how they might be passed from mother to infant. This appears to happen to some extent via the placenta and to a lesser extent via human milk. Such findings should not dissuade mothers from breastfeeding, however, because the levels of PFAS in infant formula have sometimes been found to be higher than those of human milk. Read More...

Fresh or Frozen: The Facts about Freezing Milk

Fresh or Frozen: The Facts about Freezing Milk

The first thing that comes to mind when many people think about freezing milk is ice cream. Ice cream, frozen yogurt, and custards are all sweet treats that are notable for their creamy consistency. Yet milk that has been frozen sometimes seems less appealing once it’s brought back to a liquid state. Though some might not prefer milk that has been previously frozen, the ability to freeze and store milk and dairy products can be a safe and economical way to provide beneficial nutrition that people need. Likewise, the ability to keep human milk frozen for one’s own child helps families around the world every day. A common concern about freezing milk—whether produced by human or cow—is whether nutrients are lost in the process. So what, exactly, happens when we freeze milk? Read More...

Food and Medicine: Dairy Reduces Markers of Chronic Inflammation

Food and Medicine: Dairy Reduces Markers of Chronic Inflammation

Cow milk evolved to best meet the needs of baby cows, but lucky for human consumers of milk and dairy products, many of those needs cut across species’ boundaries. Take, for example, the numerous anti-inflammatory agents found in cows milk. Although slightly different in degree and type from those found in human milk, several studies demonstrate that these factors, including calcium and the amino acid leucine, influence human markers of inflammation, particularly those related to obesity and the metabolic syndrome. And unlike baby cows, humans need not consume a milk-only diet to reap these benefits—even adding just two servings of dairy a day can have positive effects on inflammation and, by extension, human health. Read More...

Vitamin K2 Promotes Bone Health

Vitamin K2 Promotes Bone Health

The inevitable decline in humans with age is the ultimate certainty, greatly surpassing that of tides and taxes. Like an aging building reaching into the sky, it’s the foundations that really count. A strong foundation slows the adverse effects of aging and conversely a weak foundation results in foreboding cracks in the brickwork, a portent of future structural failure. Read More...

Take It Easy: Neonatal Milk Hormones Influence Infant Social and Cognitive Behavior

Take It Easy: Neonatal Milk Hormones Influence Infant Social and Cognitive Behavior

Email, texts, IM, Facebook, Instagram—in the age of social media, there is no shortage of ways to send a message from one person to another. But is mother’s milk the original social network? Many of milk’s ingredients are believed to act as signaling factors that convey a “message” from mother to infant. Over the last decade, researchers have worked on decoding these messages, with a particular focus on the hormone cortisol. Milk cortisol levels are associated with infant growth and infant temperament in rhesus macaques, and hypothesized to send the message to be more cautious and prioritize growth over behavioral activity. A newly published study expands on this hypothesis and tests whether milk cortisol levels during the first weeks of life predict behavior and cognitive performance months later. The results suggest that far from being an instant messenger, milk’s signal may have effects well after it is received. Read More...

Drinking More Milk Associated With a Lower Risk of Cognitive Disorders

Drinking More Milk Associated With a Lower Risk of Cognitive Disorders

Increased age brings with it a greater risk of cognitive decline and disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The lack of effective treatments for these cognitive disorders has spurred the search for factors that can prevent or slow cognitive decline. One of the factors that has attracted a lot of interest is nutrition, and it turns out many of the things we eat or drink could play a role in preventing cognitive decline. Read More...

Holder Pasteurization Holds Up Well Against Most Germs

Holder Pasteurization Holds Up Well Against Most Germs

There is nothing particularly surprising or complicated about the most common method of making stored milk safer than it would otherwise be. Holder Pasteurization, or HoP, aims to rid milk of potentially harmful germs by heating it to 62.5°C (145°F) for half an hour, and then cooling it back down to room temperature. This method is used by all of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) milk banks, and differs from the high-temperature, short-time (HTST) pasteurization used in the dairy industry. But these days HoP has some newfangled competitors—potential alternatives to the tried and tested method—suggesting that the time is ripe for a full evaluation of HoP’s performance. This article is the first in a series of five on the topic. Starting at the beginning of this in-depth look, how good is HoP at its core mission: keeping pathogens at bay that could, in theory, find their way into milk and make it their home? 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...