noun, plural: breast milks
Milk produced from the mammary glands of human breasts
Breast milk is a body fluid that is produced from the mammary glands of human breasts. It is for feeding an infant as the child has to reach a weaning age (i.e. six months of age) before he or she can be fed with other foods. Nevertheless, some mothers feed their child till toddler age with breast milk in addition to the other meal. It is recommended by the World Health Organization to feed infants through breastfeeding alone for the first six months. There are benefits when infants are fed with breastmilk. One of them is the decreased risk of sudden infant death syndrome.1 Breastmilk has also been associated with a decreased risk to obesity, asthma, eczema, and dental problems. As of now, there is no infant formula that can match breast milk. Breast milk remains the best provider of vitamins, minerals, hormones, and digestive enzymes. It also has suitable amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Furthermore, it contains antibodies and lymphocytes from the mother and therefore helps resist against certain infections.2
Breast milk production is influenced by the hormones prolactin and oxytocin. The first milk that a mother produces is called colostrum. It is high in immunoglobulin IgA.
1 Hauck, F.R., Thompson, J.M., Tanabe, K.O., Moon, R.Y., & Vennemann, M.M. (2011). “Breastfeeding and reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome: a meta-analysis”. Pediatrics. 128 (1): 103–10.
2 Bertotto, A., Castellucci, G., Fabietti, G., Scalise, F., & Vaccaro, R. (1990). “Lymphocytes bearing the T cell receptor gamma delta in human breast milk”. Archives of Disease in Childhood. 65 (11): 1274–5.