subject: breast milk

Dietary Access to B Vitamins during Pregnancy and Lactation Influences Infant Development

Dietary Access to B Vitamins during Pregnancy and Lactation Influences Infant Development

Red meat, fish, beans, and cow milk are all good dietary sources of B vitamins. But what about human milk? The answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no. Unlike cow mothers who have bacteria in their rumen that synthesize vitamin B12 during food digestion, human mothers rely on their diet to supply milk with B vitamins (except folate, B9). Because populations in many parts of the world suffer from vitamin B deficiency due to poor quality diets or dietary preferences that exclude animal products (e.g., vegetarian and vegan diets), human milk B vitamin composition varies widely across mothers. Read More...

Bitter Tastes from the Mother’s Diet Comes through in Her Milk—and That’s a Good Thing

Bitter Tastes from the Mother’s Diet Comes through in Her Milk—and That’s a Good Thing

As the popular adage goes, you are what you eat, and a new study published in the Journal of Dairy Science (in a loose sense) seems to support that. A research team from the Netherlands has characterized the tastes and smells of human milk and discovered a correlation between the mother’s diet and the taste of her milk. In particular, the scientists were interested in teasing apart the sensory differences in fore and hind milk and focused on whether bitter tastes would show up through the mother’s milk. Read More...

Breastfeeding May Offer Long-term Advantages to Children’s Neurodevelopment Compared with Feeding Expressed Milk

Breastfeeding May Offer Long-term Advantages to Children’s Neurodevelopment Compared with Feeding Expressed Milk

Could how you eat something matter as much as what you eat? At least when it comes to human milk, the answer is still unclear. Human milk is known to provide several benefits to children. Studies have shown that exclusive breastfeeding and breastfeeding for a longer duration are associated with enhanced cognitive development of children, improved behavioral outcomes related to attention and hyperactivity, and benefits to food-related behaviors such as less food fussiness. But researchers still don’t know whether feeding at the breast might confer some advantages over feeding expressed milk. Read More...

The Early Influence of Breastfeeding on the Infant Immune Response

The Early Influence of Breastfeeding on the Infant Immune Response

Breastfeeding is known to have several long-term impacts on health and immunity, including a lower incidence of allergy, asthma, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. But researchers still know relatively little about the development of the immune system within the first few weeks of life, and about the effect of breastfeeding on this early immune development. Read More...

Immune System-stimulating Proteins Influence the Development of the Neonatal Microbiome and Immune System

Immune System-stimulating Proteins Influence the Development of the Neonatal Microbiome and Immune System

In a new study, Dr. Viemann Dorothee of Hannover Medical School and her colleagues investigated the role of certain proteins found at high levels in breast milk, S100A8 and S100A9, in the development of the microbiome and early immune responses. Breast milk contains extremely high levels of S100A8 and S100A9, and these proteins are also found at high levels in healthy breast-fed infants. Physiologically, these proteins form a complex (S100A8-A9) known as calprotectin. Read More...

The Promise and Challenges of Producing Human Milk in the Lab

The Promise and Challenges of Producing Human Milk in the Lab

Breastfeeding is known to be both nutritious and beneficial to the health of infants, including improving their immunity and helping to protect them from infections. However, not everyone is able to breastfeed, and many mothers have to rely on donor milk or formula instead. Read More...

COVID-19-positive Mothers Pass on SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies, but Not Virus, to Infants

COVID-19-positive Mothers Pass on SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies, but  Not Virus, to Infants

The pace of scientific research is usually quite slow; the time frame between applying for financial support to publishing results in scientific journals is measured in years, not months. But that was before SARS-CoV-2. The urgency to understand the who, what, why, when, and how of this novel coronavirus has accelerated the way grant money is distributed, increased scientific collaboration, and loosened requirements on when scientific papers are published online. This change of pace can clearly be seen in human milk research, resulting in a “liquid gold rush” of studies focused on human milk composition and SARS-CoV-2. Read More...

Breastfeeding May Lower Risk of Early Menopause

Breastfeeding May Lower Risk of Early Menopause

Recommendations from both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months of life were developed to optimize infant health. But new research suggests the mother’s health may benefit from following these breastfeeding guidelines as well. Read More...

SARS-CoV-2 Research Highlights the Importance of Human Milk Immunobiology

SARS-CoV-2 Research Highlights the Importance of Human Milk Immunobiology

Over the last six months, scientists all over the world have put their planned research programs on hold and pivoted to study SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). Milk researchers are no exception. Milk from mothers that have COVID-19, the illness caused by SARS-CoV-2, could be a source of antibodies directed against the virus. Like convalescent plasma (i.e., blood from recovered COVID-19 patients), these maternally-derived antibodies offer potential as a therapeutic to help severely ill patients. But human milk could also contain RNA from SARS-CoV-2, and possibly even infectious viral material. Telling infected mothers to stop nursing “just in case” is not an option, particularly in populations without access to human milk alternatives. There is urgency in identifying both therapeutics to help those with the most severe infections and to establish informed public health policy for nursing mothers that are COVID-19 positive. The vast number of investigators tackling these questions across institutions and countries offers promise that answers will soon be available. Read More...

Malaria Antigens Occur in the Breast Milk of Asymptomatic, Infected Mothers

Malaria Antigens Occur in the Breast Milk of Asymptomatic, Infected Mothers

Malaria still accounts for approximately 435,000 deaths each year, and the substantial majority of these deaths—some 61%—are children under five years of age. Governments of affected countries, international aid organizations and foreign donors put in place various safeguards to reduce the disease rate, including mosquito nets and preventative malaria medicine for children. Yet the World Health Organization bemoans a lack of funding in this space. In 2017, for example, 15.7 million children in the Sahel region in Africa received seasonal malaria prophylaxis, but the paucity of program funding meant that 13.6 million children who could have benefited missed out. Read More...

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