Tuesday, March 14, 2017

At the cutting edge of Milk

Two threads of research into milk have come to my attention in recent days... which I thought I'd share, being the kind sort of sharing type of person that I am.

One is in terms of milk's interaction with the microbiome* of a baby - apparently natural human milk encourages good guy bacteria bifidobacterium to grow like crazy in the baby's intestine (so it becomes 80% of what's there), and that in turn sort of gives the child a good micro "fingerprint" for want of a better description, it shapes how their guts will work and what types of bacteria will live there for a good while into the future - reducing a person's predisposition to all sorts of diseases and yukkiness.
Now, the scientists love the bifidobacterium, partly because it's "Y" shaped, and partly because when they give it in spades to prematurely born babies they are 15 times less likely to get a nastly gut illness called NEC. So Mam's milk encourages this good bacteria, got it? Right, so what the scientists are now trying to do is figure out what the good bacteria is making out of it - basically what is it excreting, so that they can mimic this, you guessed it, and add this product to formula, bug poop.  I think this is a little strange, but admittedly fascinating. 

Two is that there's actually a lot of research going into Equine milk.  Yep, horses.  I know there's a brand called Cow & Gate and a scandal called horse gate, so marketing might struggle a bit more with that.  We don't mind getting a helping hand from Daisy to feed our babba's cos we're used to that idea, but Black Beauty, or Shergar?  Would that only make the kids too bloody fast anyway? Any parent who has raced behind a toddler in a terrifying game of multistory carpark chase, knows this is possibly not the best idea.  The boffins are looking into it because apparently horse mammies are very like human mammies and feed their young more often than cows.  I also wondered if this one will ultimately lead to Monkey Milk, which would surely be closer again, but again marketing might stop this bright idea in its tracks, sure it's unlikely the monkey equivalent of veal will have such a ready market.

Maybe easier to support mammies who want to use their own home made stuff, family recipe, passed down the generations, freshly batch prepared every time, perfectly adjusted according to the weather, age of the child, time of day, growth spurts the child is going through, and infections going around.  Just maybe. 

* for the science bit - the microbiome is the family of bacteria that we all live with, that live on and in us, they outnumber our cell's 10 to 1, but scientists think that ratio goes down to 1:1 after a good poop.  (sorry - gawd I seem to be apologising in my posts a lot lately)


The Bug said...

Interesting! I have a friend who is a (rather militant) lactation consultant. When I first met her she was still breast feeding her youngest son, who was about 3 or 4 (or even older) at the time. It seemed a bit scandalous (especially because it was in church - ha!). But still, I've always thought that she had the right idea - encouraging the mothers who could to feed their babies with their own milk.

Niamh B said...

Thanks Bug, you know the new pope encourages feeding in church too!! so that's all good and authorised. LOL. Yeah - each to their own but I find it strange all the work and money and study going into it when it's freely available from nature. It'd be like spending millions trying to recreate sunlight indoors instead of just going outside more... Overly simple I know but anyway, when I heard about the two things in such quick succession I just had to post!

UplayOnline said...

encouraging the mothers who could to feed their babies with their own milk.