subject: breastfeeding

Breastfeeding and Vitamin D Deficiency

Breastfeeding and Vitamin D Deficiency

Breastfed babies get all the nourishment they need from their mother's milk—right? Almost. One nutrient they don't get enough of from breast milk is vitamin D, a hormone essential for babies' growth and health. Instead, infants rely on vitamin D transferred from their mother via the placenta during early pregnancy; vitamin D produced in the baby's skin after sun exposure; or vitamin D supplied via infant formula. Recently, it's become clear that vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women is widespread in many parts of the world (1). This means that many babies who are exclusively breastfed and also kept out of the sun— as recommended by health authorities—are lacking in vitamin D. To tackle this global health problem, a new study (2) calls for greater attention to the vitamin D levels in pregnant mothers and newborns. Read More...

A Time Before Nipples

A Time Before Nipples

What was milk like long ago in evolutionary history? In the absence of a time machine, the next best way to answer this question is to take what is known about the diversity of living mammals and work backwards using deductive logic, just like Sherlock Holmes. Recently, progress in this area has received a major boost from two papers about the different sugars found in monotreme milk—monotremes being the wackiest and most ancestral-like of the mammal groups, with membership so exclusive it is limited to only two kinds, the platypus and the echidna. Read More...

Evolution Solves a Problem of Premature Milk Loss

Evolution Solves a Problem of Premature Milk Loss

The mammary gland is an amazing example of a dynamic tissue capable of undergoing major changes to match the infant's need for milk. Hormonal regulation during pregnancy causes the growth of new mammary cells, and the gland enlarges to prepare for milk production. We know a lot about signals that are reset following birth to coincide with lactation, but exactly what tells the mammary gland to stop producing milk is less clear. Read More...

Should Breastfeeding Mothers be Paid?

Should Breastfeeding Mothers be Paid?

Is offering vouchers to mothers, who are statistically unlikely to breastfeed, bribery—and thus a misuse of public funds—or is it smart public health policy? A pilot study in poorer areas in northern England are testing whether offering new mothers shopping vouchers helps increase breastfeeding rates. The results so far suggest that the scheme does achieve this aim. Opinion is divided, however, as to whether this would be a good use of public finances. Read More...

Stop, Slow, & Go: Hormonal Signals from Mother’s Milk

Stop, Slow, & Go: Hormonal Signals from Mother's Milk

Hormones are not just for women! From babies to the elderly, both females and males have these chemical messengers circulating throughout their bodies. Astonishingly, milk contains hormones too. Read More...

MIT’s Hackathon Revolutionizes the Breast Pump

MIT’s Hackathon Revolutionizes the Breast Pump

Users invariably complain that breast pumps are uncomfortable to the point of painful, noisy and physically prevents them from performing other tasks. In both the verbal and adjectival sense, the breast pump sucks in its current forms! Which is why MIT Media Lab recently hosted a "hackathon"—a collective and competitive brain storming session with the aim of redesigning the breast pump from scratch. Among the offerings of the dozen or so teams that took part, two newfangled pump ideas have caught SPLASH!’s eye. Read More...

Microbial Transfer from Mother to Offspring

Microbial Transfer from Mother to Offspring

Until recently, it was thought that the maternal reproductive system is sterile, and that a baby’s first contact with bacteria was during birth while working its way through the birth canal. This long-standing dogma has been challenged by studies demonstrating that almost all tissues in the body are full of germs. Read More...

Protein for Babies: Too Much of a Good Thing

Protein for Babies: Too Much of a Good Thing

Intuitively, most of us would think that a high protein intake would be advantageous for babies and that the more of it would be better, as protein helps build and maintain our muscles and different tissues. However, in the long term it may actually be the opposite. Recent reports indicate that a high protein intake in infancy is associated with a greater risk of obesity later in life. Read More...

Diabetes and Breastfeeding

Diabetes and Breastfeeding

When it comes to understanding the links between breastfeeding and diabetes, causation runs both ways. Diabetes can influence if and for how long a new mother breastfeeds. On the other hand, developing diabetes during pregnancy and lactation can affect mother’s metabolic health later in life. As more studies in these fields generate results, a complex picture is emerging of interacting risk factors. Read More...

Breastfeeding Improves Mother’s Cardiovascular Health

Breastfeeding Improves Mother's Cardiovascular Health

How does breastfeeding alter the odds of developing cardiac diseases later in life? Recently, a small spurt of papers has filled in some important details on this matter. Together, they find that breastfeeding generally promotes a healthy heart. Read More...

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