subject: breastfeeding

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...

Milk-fed Bifidobacterium infantis EVC001 Promotes Proper Immune Development

Milk-fed Bifidobacterium infantis EVC001 Promotes Proper Immune Development

No one likes having a sneezing fit due to seasonal allergies or struggling to breathe during an asthma attack. It turns out our propensity to such allergic and autoimmune reactions may come down to what’s in our gut—or rather, what was there when we were infants. A new study finds that whether a particular bacterium, Bifidobacterium longum subspecies infantis (B. infantis), is present in infant guts influences early immune development and could thus reduce the risk of allergic and autoimmune conditions later in life. 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...

Vaccinating While Lactating: COVID-19 Vaccines Are Safe and Provide Immune Benefits to Mother and Infant

Vaccinating While Lactating: COVID-19 Vaccines Are Safe and Provide Immune Benefits to Mother and Infant

Less than a year from the first recorded SARS-CoV-2 infection in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the emergency use of three COVID-19 vaccines. Usually a decade long endeavor, the global pandemic that has claimed over three million lives necessitated a rapid and all-hands-on-deck approach to vaccine development and delivery. Even with the accelerated pace, the vaccine trials made sure to include a diverse group of adults across multiple races, ethnicities, and age groups to ensure vaccine safety and efficacy for all recipients. What this diverse group did not include, however, were breastfeeding mothers. Without any clinical data to guide their vaccination decision, what’s a mother to do? 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...

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...

Turkish Mothers Show Fermented Food Products Protect against Mastitis

Turkish Mothers Show Fermented Food Products Protect against Mastitis

The idea of using probiotics in place of antibiotics was born in the dairy industry. In recent years, however, as multidrug resistance has become more commonplace among strains of bacteria that cause mastitis in breastfeeding women, probiotics have become known as a potential treatment alternative. Evidence that they work has been gathering. But until recently no study had evaluated one easily available source of probiotics—fermented foods such as kefir—alongside mastitis’ common risk factors. Based on interviews about fermented food-product consumption with more than 600 Turkish women, a new study finds that both the frequency with which mothers consume these foodstuffs, and the diversity of the products that they consume, are associated with lower odds of developing mastitis. 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...

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