SPLASH!® milk science update: March 2019 Issue

This month’s issue features probiotics and mother’s milk, and milk casein fibers.

Maternal Probiotic Consumption Affects the Oligosaccharides in Mother’s Milk

Maternal Probiotic Consumption Affects the Oligosaccharides in Mother’s Milk

These days, the health-giving properties of human milk oligosaccharides, or HMOs, are much appreciated. The medium-length sugars, which are the most common component of human milk after water, lactose and lipids, are not metabolized by infants. Instead, they have diverse non-nutritive roles, such as protecting infants against invading microbes, and encouraging the proper development of the growing gut. It is well established that different women secrete different collections of HMOs in their milk, and until very recently, genetics was understood to hold complete sway over this, dictating the various types and relative amounts of the various HMOs that a woman produces. In a recent issue of JAMA Pediatrics, however, Antti E. Seppo of the University of Rochester Medical Center, in New York, and his colleagues, report that women who consumed probiotics have altered blends of HMOs in their milk. Read More...

Dairy Battles Bad Bacteria

Dairy Battles Bad Bacteria

It seems that more and more frequently, the news reports on outbreaks of pathogens like Escherichia coli, which can result in food poisoning. The common approach to treatment is antibiotic therapy, but sometimes this treatment is not effective, or the bacteria are resistant to the antibiotic. Scientists are working hard to find ways to control bacteria without antibiotics. A study by Douëllu et al. has shown how a component of milk—milk fat globules (MFG)—may counter effects of E. coli. 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...

Back to the Future? Milk Fibers in the 21st Century

Back to the Future? Milk Fibers in the 21st Century

A cow, a milkmaid, and a chemist walk into a bar… or a laboratory? Not quite the typical start to a joke, but this is how a 1950s brochure described a then-popular—and somewhat revolutionary—milk fiber textile called Aralac. Between World Wars I and II, wool was scarce and this milk fiber-blended fabric was becoming a go-to substitute for shirts, ties, and other accessories and clothing in the U.S. and Europe. For a moment in time, it seemed that the future of fabrics was milk-based. So why are we not wearing—and maybe not even aware of the existence of—milk fiber clothing now? The answer lies where economics and science intersected in the mid-twentieth century. But like so many things, it seems that history is bringing us full-circle, and the interest in milk fibers has been rekindled in recent years. Read More...

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