Have you wondered how breast milk and formula compare? Since the dawn of breast milk substitutes, manufacturers have attempted to modify and to add ingredients to cow milk to make it more like human milk. This is particularly challenging because breast milk is a dynamic fluid, that changes with the gestational age of the infant, as well as from month to month of the infant’s life, day to day and even hour to hour.
There are many bioactive substances that breast milk provides during critical periods of brain, gut and immune development. Lactoferrin, lysozyme, oligosaccharides, milk lipids, mucin, interferon and fibronectin in breast milk protect the infant from bacteria and viruses. The risk of allergies and autoimmune disease is less among infants who have been breastfed. Leptin and ghrelin, which regulate appetite and satiety, are just two of the hormones present in breast milk. In 2012 researchers discovered evidence that breast milk represents a novel and noninvasive source of patient-specific stem cells.
It is for these reasons every attempt is made to provide human milk to our most vulnerable newborns: those who are born prematurely or otherwise compromised. In the Lowcountry, mothers who are able donate breast milk to the Mothers Milk Bank of SC and informally through Eats on Feeds.
Here is a link to a detailed list comparing the composition of human milk and formula: http://www.bcbabyfriendly.ca/whatsinbreastmilkposter.pdf.