subject: lactation

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...

Milk Fat: Seven Mammals, Over 400 Lipid Classes

Milk Fat: Seven Mammals, Over 400 Lipid Classes

Low-fat, reduced-fat, whole-fat—we talk about milk fat as if it were a singular ingredient, when milk fat is actually made up of several thousand different fats. Mammalian milk fat is, in fact, the most complex lipid in nature. A new research field, called lipidomics, allows researchers to quantify this complexity, by identifying and measuring all the thousands of fats at once. 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...

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...

Genes, Diet, Environment: A Host of Factors Influence Human Milk Fatty Acids

Genes, Diet, Environment: A Host of Factors Influence Human Milk Fatty Acids

Fatty acids are the most variable macronutrient in human milk. So variable, in fact, that researchers believe each mother produces her own unique milk fatty acid signature. Unfortunately, not all fatty acid signatures are optimal for infant growth and development. Decades of research have demonstrated that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCPUFA), is necessary to optimize the growth and development of infant neural functions. DHA also happens to be one of the most variable fatty acids in human milk, which means many mothers produce milk with concentrations that might not meet infant developmental requirements. 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...

Human Milk’s Lutein Content Adds to the Evidence for Breastfeeding

Human Milk’s Lutein Content Adds to the Evidence for Breastfeeding

Everyone knows that fruit and vegetables are crucial components of a healthy diet, but few have heard of lutein, a substance that is structurally similar to vitamin A and found in spinach and kale. Because the human body cannot make lutein, the amount that one swallows determines how much is available to protect the skin from ultraviolet light, lower the risk of some cancers, and—if relevant—moderate the progression of atherosclerosis. There is also mounting evidence that lutein is important in fetal and infant development. Fetuses and infants receive lutein directly from their mother—via blood that passes through the placenta, and by consuming human milk. Read More...

Assessing the Evidence Around Perfluoroalkyl Substances

Assessing the Evidence Around Perfluoroalkyl Substances

For approximately the past decade, scientists have started to wonder about potential hazards that could be posed to human health from chemicals collectively known as perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These chemicals are widespread in the environment globally—they have been used in manufacturing products such as food packaging and textile coatings since the 1950s, and are now detectable in the food chain, and even in dust and dirt. Since these chemicals can accumulate in the body, researchers are studying how they might be passed from mother to infant. This appears to happen to some extent via the placenta and to a lesser extent via human milk. Such findings should not dissuade mothers from breastfeeding, however, because the levels of PFAS in infant formula have sometimes been found to be higher than those of human milk. Read More...

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