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Unraveling Breast Milk

Date:
September 30, 2008
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Researchers are reporting that new insights into the composition of human breast milk may lead to new ways to prevent and treat stomach illnesses and other diseases in babies and adults. 

Researchers are reporting that new insights into the composition of human breast milk may lead to new ways to prevent and treat stomach illnesses and other diseases in babies and adults. 

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A new article notes that human breast milk is a complex fluid composed of several key components, including lactose, a sugar that provides energy for the infant, and lipids, which are thought to provide healthy fats to infants. But scientists are just now beginning to understand the composition and function of many of the components of human breast milk.

Researchers have found, for example, that certain sugars in breast milk could be developed into treatments that help fight necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a potentially deadly disease that affects about 10 percent of premature infants. Some types of sugars in breast milk appear to prevent bacterial infections, including those that cause severe diarrhea, the article notes.

A better understanding of the chemistry and function of breast milk can also lead to the design of more nutritious infant formulas and cow's milk products, the article suggests. "[Breast milk] is a remarkable fluid," remarked one researcher. "It's extremely embarrassing how little we still know about it."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Unraveling breast milk. Chemical & Engineering News, September 29, 2008 [link]

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Unraveling Breast Milk." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080929092213.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2008, September 30). Unraveling Breast Milk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080929092213.htm
American Chemical Society. "Unraveling Breast Milk." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080929092213.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

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