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Breast milk is associated with significant health benefits
Breast milk plays an important role in the development of babies. This special milk helps against hunger and also promotes healthy growth and development of the child. Breast milk has a number of health-promoting properties that protect the growing child from infections and problems. A very important function of breast milk is that babies experience a metabolic boost through consumption.
Scientists at Pennsylvania State University in the US recently found that breast milk has various health-promoting properties that help premature babies develop a so-called metabolic surge. The doctors released a press release on the results of their study.
Researchers are examining breast milk for differences in composition
For their investigation, the doctors compared the milk of mothers with prematurely born children and mothers who had given birth to their child at a normal time. The experts looked for differences in the composition of breast milk and the microRNA contained in it. Traces of RNA affect gene expression and can be transmitted to the baby. The researchers were able to determine that there were differences in the so-called microRNA profiles. The majority of altered microRNAs affect metabolism, explains Molly Carney from Pennsylvania State University.
Premature babies have different nutritional needs
If babies are born prematurely, they are at increased risk of a whole range of health problems. These can lead to delays in development and the premature babies are born with a lower weight. For this reason, premature babies have different nutritional needs than normal-born babies, the doctors explain. If the discovered microRNAs are transmitted to the toddler, this could possibly influence the way the newborn processes energy and nutrients, the doctors explain.
The milk of mothers with premature babies differs from normal breast milk
For their investigation, the researchers collected 36 samples of breast milk from mothers with babies born at normal times and 31 samples from mothers with a premature baby. Then they examined the samples in a laboratory. There they extracted the microRNA and compared it with the human genome. They wanted to find differences between the milk of mothers with prematurely born children and the milk of mothers with normally born children. After the analysis, about nine microRNAs were identified, which were different in breast milk from prematurely born children.
Premature babies achieve greater health benefits by consuming breast milk
The microRNAs found affect metabolic processes and can help regulate gastrointestinal function and energy consumption in premature babies, the scientists explain. Babies born prematurely therefore get better results for their health by consuming breast milk. The new findings could explain some of the health benefits of breastfeeding in premature babies, says author Professor Steven Hicks of Pennsylvania State University. (as)