Stem cells in breast milk could fulfil baby’s ‘genetic destiny’

Sunday, November 22, 2009

LONDON - A new research has found three different types of stem cells in breast milk which may be the reason why mother’s milk is deemed best for babies.

Dr Mark Cregan, medical director at the Swiss healthcare and baby equipment company Medela, has discovered adult stem cells of epithelial (mammary) and immune origin and found “very preliminary evidence” that stem cells in breast milk boost the growth of muscle and bone tissue.

According to him, mother’s milk could enable a child to “fulfil its genetic destiny”.

“Breast milk is the only adult tissue where more than one type of stem cell has been discovered. That is very unique and implies a lot about the impressive bioactivity of breast milk and the consequential benefits to the breastfed infant,” the Independent quoted Dr Cregan, as saying.

He explained: “There is a plentiful resource of tissue-specific stem cells in breast milk, which are readily available and from a non-invasive and completely ethical source.”

Dr Cregan said the discovering the immune stem cells was the “most exciting development” and added: “It’s quite possible that immune cells in breast milk can survive digestion and end up in the infant’s circulation. This has been shown to be occurring in animals, and so it would be unsurprising if this was also occurring in human infants.”

The study will also further research on issues like why some mothers struggle to produce milk and help the testing of new drugs that could improve milk production. (ANI)

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