As a pediatrician, woman, mother and grandmother, I never cease to be amazed every day at how wonderful and beneficial breast milk is, a liquid of living cells that modifies its composition in nutrients and immunoglobulins according to the nutritional and defense needs of our children. What would you think if I told you that breast milk is modified according to your baby's sixth?
Until now we knew that breast milk has the ability to modify its nutrients according to the baby's age, that is, as the milk grows it is modified to meet its nutritional and energy needs. I explain it this way:
- The newborn receives colostrum as the first food, which is the precursor of definitive breast milk and called the baby's first vaccine. It is a serous yellow liquid, of very little quantity and loaded with millions of immunoglobulins, which will protect it from possible aggressive germs (viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites ...) and will reinforce its defense system, the which is immature at birth. Also, colostrum has water, fat, protein, carbohydrates and other macro and micronutrients.
- On the fifth day after the baby is born, colostrum is transformed into intermediate milk, a moment known as the rise or fall of milk, increasing its amount to 700 ml in approximately 24 hours. It also increases its levels of fat, lactose and milk sugar, since the baby needs more energy and other changes are produced that favor the nutrition of the newborn.
- And approximately, around the first fifteen days, breast milk is transformed into so-called mature milk, which is the one that will be maintained until mother and child decide to wean, increasing its volume to about 800 ml in 24 hours and its amount of water to approximately 88% to cover the baby's water needs.
Equally, It is scientifically confirmed that breast milk modifies its composition when mother or child suffer from any pathology, increasing their concentration of immunoglobulins (antibodies), leukocytes (defense cells) and lactoferrin (defense proteins), to strengthen the defense system, which will allow them to fight possible infectious agents (viruses or bacteria) that are attacking and making them sick .
We can even observe the change in its color during this period, which will be yellow, like colostrum, due to its high concentration of beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, which plays a very important role against infections.
Recently in recent scientific studies at the University of Michigan USA, researchers have verified that there is breast milk for when your child is male and another for when it is female, that is, the composition of breast milk is adapted according to the sex of the baby. Who would believe that breast milk would depend on the sex of your child?
According to the study, males generally receive milk that is higher in fat, but in countries where there are nutritional deficiencies, female breast milk is more fat. In other words, females benefit from milk with better nutrients and energy, in times of scarcity.
Supposedly, these modifications of milk are a normal occurrence and are due to evolutionary changes in nature, being verified in some animals studied. This was confirmed at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, also concluding that there are gender differences in the composition of milk.
Professor Katie Hinde, from Harvard University, a student of molecular biology, found that the milk of male mammals has higher levels of cortisol, and that of females, higher levels of calcium, deducing that this change may be due to the fact that females develop their bone skeleton earlier than males, so the growth pattern is also a reason for the modification of breast milk according to sex (study done in chimpanzees).
So that the growth pattern is also a reason for the modification of breast milk according to sex, that is, nutrients necessary for the baby to grow.
In conclusion, I can say that the importance and benefits of breast milk are beyond what we might think and there will be no artificial milk that can overcome this fact. The advantages, as explained in the Breastfeeding Guide report, prepared by the Government of the Balearic Islands, are multiple for both mother and baby: it prevents diseases in adulthood, reduces the risk of sudden death, overweight and obesity, develops a close maternal and filial affective bond or decreases the risk of premenopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer and hip fractures.
After centuries of studying breast milk, every day it is found that it is the ideal food for our children and what remains to be discovered. So don't hesitate mommy, your milk brings life and health to your children!
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