Breast Feeding

New Study Reveals Why Breastmilk is the Best for Babies

Researchers from the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, in collaboration with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, have made a groundbreaking discovery about the composition of breastmilk. In their study published in Frontiers in Nutrition, they found that breastmilk contains significantly higher concentrations of ether lipids compared to formula and other types of milk.

Mother and son sitting on sofa breastfeeding at home

Ether lipids have been shown to have numerous health benefits, such as protecting the heart and immune system. Low levels of ether lipids are associated with diseases like atherosclerosis and fatty liver disease. This finding gives a possible explanation as to why breastmilk is considered the most beneficial food source for early life development.

Breastfed infants have been proven to have lower disease risk and better long-term outcomes compared to formula-fed infants. Breastfeeding is associated with improved immune systems and neurological development, as well as a decreased risk of obesity, diabetes, and other non-communicable diseases.

Dr. Alexandra George, a research scientist at the Baker Institute, conducted the most comprehensive study to date on breastmilk lipids. She discovered that breastmilk is rich in ether lipids and that its composition differs significantly from that of formula and other types of milk. Ether lipids make up approximately 3%–5% of breastmilk and provide essential energy and bioactive components crucial for early life.

The study also found that breastfed infants have much higher levels of ether lipids in their system compared to formula-fed infants at 6 months of age. This suggests that the breastmilk lipidome, or the composition of lipids in breastmilk, has a direct impact on infant circulating lipids.

These findings have significant implications for infant nutrition and health. The researchers suggest that increasing ether lipids in the maternal diet could lead to higher levels of ether lipids in breast milk, benefiting both breastfed and formula-fed infants. Furthermore, the next step is to develop dietary supplements that can be given to breastfeeding mothers to increase their levels of ether lipids.

This research sheds light on the unique composition of breastmilk and paves the way for improving infant health through enhanced nutrition.

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About the author

Lisa Arneill

Founder of Growing Your Baby and World Traveled Family. Canadian mom of 2 boys, photo addict, lover of bulldogs, and museumgoer. Always looking for our next vacation spot!

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