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Beneficial actions of breast milk
Why and how?


UND Life Sciences, 2020 S 360th St, # K-202, Federal Way, WA 98003, USA


Breast feeding not only reduces the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, atopy, and infection, and improves cognitive development but also protects against development of obesity, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and imparts a favorable lipid profile in adult life. Human breast milk contains adequate amounts of protein, fat, carbohydrates, lactose, casein, more than 200 short-chain human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), vitamins, carotenoids, interleukin-10 (IL-10), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and several antibodies in the form of secreted immunoglobulin A (IgA) that support somatic growth and help the infant to develop robust populations of memory T cells {including T helper 17 (IL-17) cells} and a healthy gut microbiota. Presence of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and their hydroxy fatty acid precursors including pro-inflammatory leukotriene B4 (LTB4) and anti-inflammatory and pro-resolving lipoxin A4 (LXA4), resolvin D1 (RsvD1) and resolvin E1 (RsvE1) in human breast milk will ensure prevention of inappropriate inflammation. PUFAs and their metabolites serve as ligands for the retinoid X receptor (RXR) in brain, an obligatory component of a large number of nuclear receptor heterodimers to which vitamin A metabolite, 9-cis retinoic acid, binds with high affinity. These retinoic acid (RA) receptors (RARα, RARβ, and RARγ) and the retinoid X receptors (RXRα, RXRβ, RXRγ) function as RAR-RXR heterodimers to support embryonic development and post-natal life and in the regulation of various neurotransmitter pathways and enhance intelligence quotient (IQ).


Breastfeeding has not only clear short-term benefits for child survival by reducing morbidity and mortality from various bacterial and viral infections but also has long-term benefits in the form of improving intelligence quotient (IQ) (1-7), lifetime beneficial effects on metabolism, growth, and neurodevelopment and on major disease processes such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, lipid profile and atherosclerosis (1). Studies showed that infant nutrition in primates and humans can program the development of adult onset of  obesity, metabolic syndrome, atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease (CHD) (8-10). Epidemiological studies indicated that breast-feeding can be related to later CHD (8). These observations on the relations between breast feeding and adult diseases (8-10) are of great public health interest since it suggests that a natural and physiological and cost-effective method of preventing the current epidemiology of obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome is practical, possible and easily implementable. But such an effort needs tremendous amount of public awareness and educating t ...

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