New evidence on benefits of breast feeding

August 11, 2008
Scientists have identified sugar-based proteins in human breast-milk that could help fight disease. Credit: Credit: Niclas Karlsson

Researchers in Switzerland and Australia are reporting identification of proteins in human breast-milk — not present in cow's milk — that may fight disease by helping remove bacteria, viruses and other dangerous pathogen's from an infant's gastrointestinal tract. Their study is scheduled for the September 5 issue of ACS' Journal of Proteome Research.

Niclas Karlsson and colleagues point out that researchers have known for years that breast milk appears to provide a variety of health benefits, including lower rates of diarrhea, rashes, allergies, and other medical problems in comparison to babies fed with cow's milk. However, the biological reasons behind this association remain unclear.

To find out, the scientists collected human and cow's milk samples and analyzed their content of milk fat. They found that fat particles in human milk are coated with particular variants of two sugar-based proteins, called MUC-1 and MUC-4.

Previous studies by others have shown that these proteins can block certain receptors in the GI tract that are the main attachment sites for E. coli, Helicobacter pylori and other disease-causing microbes, thereby preventing infection. By contrast, since cow's milk lacks these protein variants, it may not offer the same disease protection, the researchers say.

Article: dx.doi.org/10.1021/pr700793k

Source: ACS

Explore further: Why we need to keep an eye on whether a blood infection in cattle is linked to breast cancer in humans

Related Stories

A necessary retelling of the smallpox vaccine story

January 13, 2017

A curious confluence of events unfolded Tuesday night. Just hours before President Obama uttered the powerful "science and reason matter" in his farewell address, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced that the incoming president ...

Recommended for you

80-million-year-old dinosaur collagen confirmed

January 23, 2017

Utilizing the most rigorous testing methods to date, researchers from North Carolina State University have isolated additional collagen peptides from an 80-million-year-old Brachylophosaurus. The work lends further support ...

Archaeologists uncover new clues to Maya collapse

January 23, 2017

Using the largest set of radiocarbon dates ever obtained from a single Maya site, archaeologists have developed a high-precision chronology that sheds new light on patterns leading up to the two major collapses of the ancient ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.