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Concept: Lactation


Evidence suggests that human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) provide multiple benefits to infants, including prebiotic effects, gut maturation, antimicrobial activities, and immune modulation. Clinical intervention studies with HMOs are required to confirm these benefits in infants.

Concepts: Infant, The Canon of Medicine, Randomized controlled trial, Milk, Breastfeeding, Lactation, Clinical research, Breast milk


Attempts to alter intestinal dysbiosis via administration of probiotics have consistently shown that colonization with the administered microbes is transient. This study sought to determine whether provision of an initial course of Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis (B. infantis) would lead to persistent colonization of the probiotic organism in breastfed infants. Mothers intending to breastfeed were recruited and provided with lactation support. One group of mothers fed B. infantis EVC001 to their infants from day 7 to day 28 of life (n = 34), and the second group did not administer any probiotic (n = 32). Fecal samples were collected during the first 60 postnatal days in both groups. Fecal samples were assessed by 16S rRNA gene sequencing, quantitative PCR, mass spectrometry, and endotoxin measurement. B. infantis-fed infants had significantly higher populations of fecal Bifidobacteriaceae, in particular B. infantis, while EVC001 was fed, and this difference persisted more than 30 days after EVC001 supplementation ceased. Fecal milk oligosaccharides were significantly lower in B. infantis EVC001-fed infants, demonstrating higher consumption of human milk oligosaccharides by B. infantis EVC001. Concentrations of acetate and lactate were significantly higher and fecal pH was significantly lower in infants fed EVC001, demonstrating alterations in intestinal fermentation. Infants colonized by Bifidobacteriaceae at high levels had 4-fold-lower fecal endotoxin levels, consistent with observed lower levels of Gram-negative Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes. IMPORTANCE The gut microbiome in early life plays an important role for long-term health and is shaped in large part by diet. Probiotics may contribute to improvements in health, but they have not been shown to alter the community composition of the gut microbiome. Here, we found that breastfed infants could be stably colonized at high levels by provision of B. infantis EVC001, with significant changes to the overall microbiome composition persisting more than a month later, whether the infants were born vaginally or by caesarean section. This observation is consistent with previous studies demonstrating the capacity of this subspecies to utilize human milk glycans as a nutrient and underscores the importance of pairing a probiotic organism with a specific substrate. Colonization by B. infantis EVC001 resulted in significant changes to fecal microbiome composition and was associated with improvements in fecal biochemistry. The combination of human milk and an infant-associated Bifidobacterium sp. shows, for the first time, that durable changes to the human gut microbiome are possible and are associated with improved gut function.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Ribosomal RNA, Milk, Breastfeeding, Lactation, 16S ribosomal RNA, Breast milk


Mammalian females pay high energetic costs for reproduction, the greatest of which is imposed by lactation. The synthesis of milk requires, in part, the mobilization of bodily reserves to nourish developing young. Numerous hypotheses have been advanced to predict how mothers will differentially invest in sons and daughters, however few studies have addressed sex-biased milk synthesis. Here we leverage the dairy cow model to investigate such phenomena. Using 2.39 million lactation records from 1.49 million dairy cows, we demonstrate that the sex of the fetus influences the capacity of the mammary gland to synthesize milk during lactation. Cows favor daughters, producing significantly more milk for daughters than for sons across lactation. Using a sub-sample of this dataset (N = 113,750 subjects) we further demonstrate that the effects of fetal sex interact dynamically across parities, whereby the sex of the fetus being gestated can enhance or diminish the production of milk during an established lactation. Moreover the sex of the fetus gestated on the first parity has persistent consequences for milk synthesis on the subsequent parity. Specifically, gestation of a daughter on the first parity increases milk production by ∼445 kg over the first two lactations. Our results identify a dramatic and sustained programming of mammary function by offspring in utero. Nutritional and endocrine conditions in utero are known to have pronounced and long-term effects on progeny, but the ways in which the progeny has sustained physiological effects on the dam have received little attention to date.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Female, Milk, Lactation, Mammal, Cattle, Dairy farming, Dairy cattle


It has been suggested human female breast size may act as signal of fat reserves, which in turn indicates access to resources. Based on this perspective, two studies were conducted to test the hypothesis that men experiencing relative resource insecurity should perceive larger breast size as more physically attractive than men experiencing resource security. In Study 1, 266 men from three sites in Malaysia varying in relative socioeconomic status (high to low) rated a series of animated figures varying in breast size for physical attractiveness. Results showed that men from the low socioeconomic context rated larger breasts as more attractive than did men from the medium socioeconomic context, who in turn perceived larger breasts as attractive than men from a high socioeconomic context. Study 2 compared the breast size judgements of 66 hungry versus 58 satiated men within the same environmental context in Britain. Results showed that hungry men rated larger breasts as significantly more attractive than satiated men. Taken together, these studies provide evidence that resource security impacts upon men’s attractiveness ratings based on women’s breast size.

Concepts: Female, Estrogen, Lactation, Gender, Perception, Breast, Woman, Physical attractiveness


Maternal nutrition plays a crucial role in influencing fertility, fetal development, birth outcomes, and breast milk composition. During the critical window of time from conception through the initiation of complementary feeding, the nutrition of the mother is the nutrition of the offspring-and a mother’s dietary choices can affect both the early health status and lifelong disease risk of the offspring. Most health expert recommendations and government-sponsored dietary guidelines agree that a healthy diet for children and adults (including those who are pregnant and/or lactating) should include an abundance of nutrient-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables. These foods should contain a variety of essential nutrients as well as other compounds that are associated with lower disease risk such as fiber and bioactives. However, the number and amounts of nutrients varies considerably among fruits and vegetables, and not all fruit and vegetable options are considered “nutrient-rich”. Avocados are unique among fruits and vegetables in that, by weight, they contain much higher amounts of the key nutrients folate and potassium, which are normally under-consumed in maternal diets. Avocados also contain higher amounts of several non-essential compounds, such as fiber, monounsaturated fats, and lipid-soluble antioxidants, which have all been linked to improvements in maternal health, birth outcomes and/or breast milk quality. The objective of this report is to review the evidence that avocados may be a unique nutrition source for pregnant and lactating women and, thus, should be considered for inclusion in future dietary recommendations for expecting and new mothers.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Health, Nutrition, Milk, Breastfeeding, Lactation, Mother, Breast milk


Monotremes are the only oviparous mammals and exhibit a fascinating combination of reptilian and mammalian characters. They represent a component of synapsidal reproduction by laying shelled eggs which are incubated outside the mother’s body. This is accompanied by a prototherian lactation process, marking them as representatives of early mammals. The only extant monotremes are the platypus, and the short- and long- beaked echidnas, and their distributions are limited to Australia and New Guinea. Apart for a short weaning period, milk is the sole source of nutrition and protection for the hatchlings which are altricial and immunologically naive. The duration of lactation in these mammals is prolonged relative to the gestational length and period of incubation of eggs. Much of the development of monotreme young occurs in the non-sterile ex-utero environment. Therefore the role of milk in the growth, development and disease protection of the young is of significant interest. By sequencing the cDNA of cells harvested from monotreme milk, we have identified a novel monotreme- specific transcript, and the corresponding gene was designated as the EchAMP. The expression profile of this gene in various tissues revealed that it is highly expressed in milk cells. The peptides corresponding to the EchAMP protein have been identified in a sample of echidna milk In silico analysis indicated putative antimicrobial potential for the cognate protein of EchAMP. This was further confirmed by in vitro assays using a host of bacteria. Interestingly, EchAMP did not display any activity against a commensal gut floral species. These results support the hypothesis of enhancement of survival of the young by antimicrobial bioactives of mammary gland origin and thus emphasize the protective, non- nutritional role of milk in mammals.

Concepts: Gene expression, Milk, Lactation, Mammal, Mammary gland, Monotreme, Platypus, Echidna


BACKGROUND: The use of mother’s own breast milk during initial hospitalization has a positive impact not only in reducing potential serious neonatal morbidities but also contribute to improvements in neurodevelopmental outcomes. Mothers of very preterm infants struggle to maintain a supply of breast milk during their infants' prolonged hospitalization. Galactogogues are medications that induce lactation by exerting its effects through oxytocin or prolactin enhancement. Domperidone is a potent dopamine D2 receptor antagonist which stimulates the release of prolactin. Small trials have established its ability in enhancing breast milk production. EMPOWER was designed to determine the safety and efficacy of domperidone in mothers experiencing an inadequate milk supply.Methods/designEMPOWER is a multicenter, double masked, randomized controlled phase-II trial to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of domperidone in those mothers identified as having difficulty in breast milk production. Eligible mothers will be randomized to one of two allocated groups: Group A: domperidone 10 mg orally three times daily for 28 days; and Group B: identical placebo 10 mg orally three times daily for 14 days followed by domperidone 10 mg orally three times daily for 14 days. The primary outcome will be determined at the completion of the first 2-week period; the second 2-week period will facilitate answering the secondary questions regarding timing and duration of treatment. To detect an estimated 30% change between the two groups (from 40% to 28%, corresponding to an odds ratio of 0.6), a total sample size of 488 mothers would be required at 80% power and alpha = 0.05. To account for a 15% dropout, this number is increased to 560 (280 per group). The duration of the trial is expected to be 36–40 months. DISCUSSION: The use of a galactogogue often becomes the measure of choice for mothers in the presence of insufficient breast milk production, particularly when the other techniques are unsuccessful. EMPOWER is designed to provide valuable information in guiding the practices for this high-risk group of infants and mothers. The results of this trial will also inform both mothers and clinicians about the choices available to increase and maintain sufficient breast milk.Trial registrationClinical Identifier: NCT01512225.

Concepts: Infant, Milk, Breastfeeding, Lactation, Dopamine receptor, Breast, Breast milk, Dopamine receptor D2


Understanding human milk composition is critical for setting nutrient recommended intakes (RNIs) for both infants and lactating women. However, nationwide human milk composition remains unavailable in China.

Concepts: Childbirth, Female, Milk, Breastfeeding, Lactation, Mammal, Breast, Breast milk


Previous studies indicate that breast milk arsenic concentrations are relatively low even in areas with high drinking water arsenic. However, it is uncertain whether breastfeeding leads to reduced infant exposure to arsenic in regions with lower arsenic concentrations.

Concepts: Infant, Water, Milk, Breastfeeding, Lactation, Baby bottle, Pacifier, Breast milk


Although animal studies have shown that exposure to glyphosate (a commonly used herbicide) does not result in glyphosate bioaccumulation in tissues, to our knowledge there are no published data on whether it is detectable in human milk and therefore consumed by breastfed infants.

Concepts: Infant, Milk, Breastfeeding, Lactation, Mammal, Baby bottle, Breast milk, Debut albums