subject: breastfeeding

Antibody Type, Specificity, and Source Influence Their Survival in the Infant Gut

Antibody Type, Specificity, and Source Influence Their Survival in the Infant Gut

Maternal antibodies play an important role in protecting newborns from harmful pathogens. Antibodies known as immunoglobulins (Igs) are transferred from the mother’s placenta into the fetus, where they protect the infant while the infant’s immune system is still developing, Human milk also contains many different Igs, such as IgA, IgM, IgG, and secretory forms of IgA and IgM. Consuming human milk provides additional immune protection to infants and has been shown to reduce the risk of infectious diseases. Read More...

The Fifteen Lives of Mammary Cells

The Fifteen Lives of Mammary Cells

How do mammary cells change and gain the ability to make milk at each birth? Scientists, at present, only have fragmentary information and little detail about the hierarchy of mammary cells contributing to the lactation cycle beginning at each pregnancy. A cellular hierarchy is like a family tree. It shows the relationships between different types of cells i.e., who begat whom. Knowledge of cellular hierarchies in mammary tissue could help answer many difficult questions. Which cells (progenitor cells) give rise to the cells that make milk or cells that form part of the mammary tissue structure supporting lactation? How do mammary epithelial cells cease producing milk after weaning? Which mammary cells develop into breast cancer and why? Recently, a group of investigators produced a massive molecular resource that may help answer these and many other questions relating to mammary tissue function. Importantly, the investigators made the resource available to all scientists to maximize its potential for additional discoveries. Read More...

The Bitterness of the Maternal Diet Influences the Bitterness of Human Milk

The Bitterness of the Maternal Diet Influences the Bitterness of Human Milk

Human milk is known to provide a variety of nutrients that aid infants’ growth and development and are beneficial to their health. But as children grow a little older, they often don’t meet recommended dietary guidelines, particularly when it comes to eating enough fruits and vegetables. Read More...

Fossil Teeth Tell Story of Neanderthal Life and Lactation

Fossil Teeth Tell Story of Neanderthal Life and Lactation

New parents use baby books to record the dates of all of their child’s firsts—when they first eat solid foods, take their first steps, cut their first tooth, and say their first words. These books tell part of the child’s life story, allowing parents to reminisce years later about when all of these exciting milestones happened in the life of their child. Researchers that study the evolutionary history of humans are similarly interested in knowing the dates of these developmental milestones in order to recreate life stories for fossil skeletons (albeit for the less sentimental reason of comparing to living humans). Amazingly, teeth—even those from individuals that died hundreds of thousands of years ago—act much like doting parents, capturing every day of childhood as they grow. Read More...

No Causal Link between Breastfeeding and Metabolic Health

No Causal Link between Breastfeeding and Metabolic Health

Demonstrating cause and effect can be a tricky business. In some areas of medicine, where double-blind prospective trials are commonplace, it is less of a challenge. By comparison, the field of public health, researchers often have to gather information as best they can—clues about human motivations, traces of behaviors, and diseases—and then do their best to identify the links. Scientists studying whether mothers who breastfeed have better long-term metabolic health than mothers who do not breastfeed have come up against these problems. Recent work has focused sharply on isolating the causal pattern, and has found that breastfeeding itself does not affect long-term maternal metabolic health. Read More...

Infants Gain More Weight When Bottle Fed Mom’s Milk

Infants Gain More Weight When Bottle Fed Mom’s Milk

If you want to understand how an infant’s diet influences its health, you might ask, “What did the infant eat?” But the results of a new study on infant diet and weight gain suggest that this simple question is no longer sufficient; in addition to asking what, we need to be asking how, and for how long. Newly published results from over 2,500 mother-infant pairs demonstrate that the longer a mother is able to directly provide breast milk, the more closely the infant’s rate of weight gain over the first 12 months of life matches the World Health Organization’s (WHO) standards. Considering the prevalence of pumping among many breastfeeding mothers, these novel findings shouldn’t be reported without consideration of the many positive outcomes associated with feeding expressed breast milk. Read More...

Breastfeeding May Help Protect Babies from Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Breastfeeding May Help Protect Babies from Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics poses a major challenge to global public health. Babies lack a fully developed immune system and gut microbiome, and are particularly susceptible to infections by resistant bacteria. More than 200,000 infants are estimated to die every year due to septic infections caused by antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Read More...

Looks Can Be Deceiving: Similar Gut Bacteria Have Different Functions in Breast-Fed and Formula-Fed Infants

Looks Can Be Deceiving: Similar Gut Bacteria Have Different Functions in Breast-Fed and Formula-Fed Infants

Infant formula manufacturers are faced with an extremely difficult task: they must transform cow or plant-based milks into a liquid that mimics human milk. This mimicry involves more than just copying human milk’s ingredient list, however. Formula must also match human milk in performance, an especially difficult endeavor when considering many components are highly complex and specific to human milk. Read More...

Biochemical Evidence that Breastfeeding Reduces the Odds of Diabetes

Biochemical Evidence that Breastfeeding Reduces the Odds of Diabetes

What percentage of people with diabetes have yet to be diagnosed? In one advanced democracy with a good public health system—the United Kingdom—the figure is thought to be about 20%. Common sense suggests that in countries where healthcare is not free at the point of use, this percentage is probably higher. Because so many people who have diabetes do not know it, studies of diabetes that rely on self-reported cases always come with a sliver of doubt. This is why some newly published research by Erica P. Gunderson of Kaiser Permanente, and her colleagues, is important. It is the first long-term study—using biochemical diagnosis—to show that breastfeeding reduces the odds of a woman developing diabetes. Read More...

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