Human Milk Proteins Inhibit Bacteria M. Luteus - Breastfeeding Benefits for Toddlers, Too!

Vicky Green, first year biosciences student at South Devon College in the U.K., has conducted a microbiology research project that appears to lend further support to an often overlooked fact: human milk is powerfully beneficial for toddlers, too! In fact, one thing we know from lactation sciences is that as a baby ages, milk from mom changes to fit a child's immunological needs. This includes becoming more concentrated and power-packed in fighting viruses and bacterial infections with each small amount of milk consumed by a busy, bustling toddler on the go.

Green told The Huffington Post that she and her classmate, Emma Browne, "...decided to test whether antimicrobial properties of breastmilk changes the older the child is feeding for a small microbiology project."

In her experiment, Green has two samples - one (BmA) from a mother nursing her 15 month old baby, and another (BmB) from a mother nursing her 3 year old toddler. [Additional information on the natural human weaning process.] Bacteria M. Luteus was added to the petri dishes as a small white disc, and soaked in the two samples of human milk. The clear space around the remaining discs is where the proteins in the milk have inhibited the bacteria. Sample BmB has acted more quickly than sample BmA. Whether this is a statistically significant difference is not determined.

There could be several reasons for differences of results (mom of sample BmB may have further antibodies built up for M. Luteus, for example). However, both samples show that human milk is successful in breaking down the bacteria, and Green's findings align with research that demonstrates the milk of a nursing baby increases in immunological density with age. In this fashion, a baby receiving all nutrients from mother's milk ('exclusively breastfeeding') is given an all-day, all-night course of immunity boosting antibodies through her milk. An older toddler, who is receiving a smaller portion of nutrients via mom's milk, also receives this vital immunity boost, but in a lesser quantity of milk. To do so, the human body concentrates these antibodies into a smaller, powerful nursing session on-the-go, and the child has the support s/he needs as the immune system and brain continue on their rapid journey to full development. [The immune system and brain do not reach near-completion until approximately age 5, which tends to correlate with an age of natural weaning cessation.]

Green found similar results with E. coli and MRSA [Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus] as well. "I'm also doing [an experiment on] colostrum in a couple of weeks," writes Green, and concludes on her Facebook post, "The future is bright, the future is breastmilk."

Nursing mothers with babies of all ages are welcome to join The Breastfeeding Group:

Related Reading:

HAMLET Substance in Human Milk Kills Cancer Cells:

Microscopic View of Human Milk, Cow's Milk, and Formula:

Human Milk and Formula Ingredient List:

The Medicinal Uses of Human Milk:

[Book] Baby Matters: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Caring For Your Baby
Dr. Palmer's book explores more of the science behind human lactation and its impact on immunity and neurological development. A must-read for anyone interested in these topics. 

Making More Milk: The Feedback Inhibitor of Lactation:

Natural Weaning:

The JOY of Nursing Toddlers:

GOOD Breastfeeding Books for Nursing Mothers:

Natural weaning postcards available on Etsy or the Breastfeeding Materials page.


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