The contents of Human Milk

Just live your normal life and eat a normal diet, and your milk will contain what you see below without you having to think about it.

Click the image below to open the full infographic in a new window, where you can explore the contents in detail.

the infographic
Web developer with newborn

Due to foreseen circumstances, our web developer became a little tied up over the last few days, so we’re not quite as finished as we had hoped!

The infographic will progressively become interactive, with more components being explained. We will keep you posted over the coming weeks as the infographic comes alive...

Advert references
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Here you'll find references and research supporting some of the statements in the advert.

“Nature has been researching your milk for hundreds of millions of years”
  • Breastfeeding has ancient origins (BBC website).
  • Capuco AV, Akers RM. The origin and evolution of lactation. J Biol. 2009; 8(4): 37.
  • Oftedal OT. The mammary gland and its origin during synapsid evolution. J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2002; 7(3): 225–52.
  • Oftedal OT. The origin of lactation as a water source for parchment-shelled eggs. J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2002; 7(3): 253-66.
  • Oftedal OT, Dhouially D. Evo-Devo of the Mammary Gland. Journal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia. 2013; 18: 105-120.
  • Capuco AV, Akers RM. The origin and evolution of lactation. Journal of Biology. 2009; 8(4): 37.
  • Goldman AS. Evolution of the mammary gland defense system and the ontogeny of the immune system. J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2002; 7: 277–289.
“Your milk contains ingredients that kill cancerous cells”
  • Gustafsson L, Hallgren O, Mossberg AK, et al. HAMLET kills tumour cells by apoptosis: structure, cellular mechanisms, and therapy. J Nutr. 2005; 135: 1299-1303.
  • Håkansson A, Zhivotovsky B, Orrenius S, Sabharwal H, Svanborg C. Apoptosis induced by a human milk protein. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995; 92(17): 8064-8.
  • Hallgren O, Aits S, Brest P, Gustafsson L, Mossberg AK, Wullt B, Svanborg C. Apoptosis and tumor cell death in response to HAMLET (human alpha-lactalbumin made lethal to tumor cells). Adv Exp Med Biol. 2008; 606: 217-40.
  • Hakansson AP, Roche-Hakansson H, Mossberg AK, Svanborg C. Apoptosis-like death in bacteria induced by HAMLET, a human milk lipid-protein complex. PLoS One. 2011; 6(3): e17717.
  • Kataev A, Zherelova O, Grishchenko V. A Characeae Cells Plasma Membrane as a Model for Selection of Bioactive Compounds and Drugs: Interaction of HAMLET-Like Complexes with Ion Channels of Chara corallina Cells Plasmalemma. J Membr Biol. 2016; 249(6): 801-811.
  • Jiang R, Du X, Lönnerdal B. Comparison of bioactivities of talactoferrin and lactoferrins from human and bovine milk. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2014; 59(5): 642-52.
  • Hill DR, Newburg DS. Clinical applications of bioactive milk components. Nutr Rev. 2015; 73(7): 463-76.
  • Vogel HJ. Lactoferrin, a bird's eye view. Biochem Cell Biol. 2012; 90(3): 233-44.
“Your milk contains stem cells. These are cells that create and repair the body, and are being researched worldwide to cure conditions like Alzheimers and diabetes.”
  • Cregan MD, Fan Y, Appelbee A, et al. Identification of nestin-positive putative mammary stem cells in human breastmilk. Cell Tissue Res. 2007; 329: 129-136.
  • Hassiotou F, Beltran A, Chewynd E, et al. Breastmilk is a novel source of stem cells with multilineage differentiation potential. Stem Cells. 2012; 30(10): 2164-74.
  • Briere CE, McGrath JM, Jensen T, Matson A, Finck C. Breast Milk Stem Cells: Current Science and Implications for Preterm Infants. Adv Neonatal Care. 2016; 16(6): 410-419.
  • Twigger AJ, Hepworth AR, Lai CT, Chetwynd E, Stuebe AM, Blancafort P, Hartmann PE, Geddes DT, Kakulas F. Gene expression in breastmilk cells is associated with maternal and infant characteristics. Sci Rep. 2015; 5: 12933.
  • Choi SS, Lee SR, Lee HJ. Neurorestorative Role of Stem Cells in Alzheimer's Disease: Astrocyte Involvement. Curr Alzheimer Res. 2016; 13(4): 419-27.
  • Lilly MA, Davis MF, Fabie JE, Terhune EB, Gallicano GI. Current stem cell based therapies in diabetes. Am J Stem Cells. 2016; 5(3): 87-98.
  • Cheng SK, Park EY, Pehar A, Rooney AC, Gallicano GI. Current progress of human trials using stem cell therapy as a treatment for diabetes mellitus. Am J Stem Cells. 2016; 5(3): 74-86.
“Your body identifies bacteria and viruses found in your baby's body and environment. You then produce antibodies specifically tailored for those infections, and deliver them to your baby through your milk. The more milk she drinks, the more antibodies she receives.”
  • Goldman AS, Garza C, Nichols BL, Goldblum RM. Immunological factors in human milk during the first year of lactation. J Pediatr. 1982; 100; 563-567.
  • Pickering LK, Kohl S. Human milk humoral immunity and infant defense mechanisms. In: Howell RR, Morriss FH, Pickering LK, eds. Human milk in infant nutrition and health. Springfield, IL: Thomas; 1986: 123-140.
  • Litwin SD, Zehr BD, Insel RA. Selective concentration of IgD class-specific antibodies in human milk. Clin Exp Immunol. 1990; 80: 262-267.
  • Blais DR, Harrold J, Altosaar I. Killing the messenger in the nick of time: persistence of breastmilk sCD14 in the neonatal gastrointestinal tract. Pediatr Res. 2006; 59: 371-376.
  • Andreas NJ, Kampmann B, Mehring Le-Doare K. Human breast milk: A review on its composition and bioactivity. Early Hum Dev. 2015; 91(11): 629-35.
  • Bode L. The functional biology of human milk oligosaccharides. Early Hum Dev. 2015; 91(11): 619-22.
  • Hassiotou F, Geddes DT. Immune cell-mediated protection of the mammary gland and the infant during breastfeeding. Adv Nutr. 2015; 6(3): 267-75.
  • Turfkruyer M, Verhasselt V. Breast milk and its impact on maturation of the neonatal immune system. Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2015; 28(3): 199-206.
  • Bourlieu C, Michalski MC. Structure-function relationship of the milk fat globule. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2015; 18(2): 118-27.
  • Rogier EW, Frantz AL, Bruno ME, Wedlund L, Cohen DA, Stromberg AJ, Kaetzel CS. Lessons from mother: Long-term impact of antibodies in breast milk on the gut microbiota and intestinal immune system of breastfed offspring. Gut Microbes. 2014; 5(5): 663-8.
“Your milk appears to switch on a gene in your baby’s body, which produces a hormone called Leptin. This hormone tells your baby when his tummy is full, protecting him against over eating.”
  • Fields DA, Demerath EW. Relationship of insulin, glucose, leptin, IL-6 and TNF-α in human breast milk with infant growth and body composition. Pediatr Obes. 2012; 7(4): 304-12.
  • Savino F, Sardo A, Rossi L, Benetti S, Savino A, Silvestro L. Mother and infant body mass index, breast milk leptin and their serum leptin values. Nutrients 2016; 8: 383.
  • Miralles O, Sanchez J, Palou A, Pico C. A physiological role of breast milk leptin in body weight control in developing infants. Obesity 2006; 14: 1371–1377.
  • Cannon A, Kakulas F, Hepworth A, Lai C, Hartmann P, Geddes D. The effects of leptin on breastfeeding behaviour. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015; 12: 12340–12355.
“Your milk contains Oxytocin, a hormone that induces relaxation, and feelings of well-being in your child and in you.”
  • Unvas-Moberg K. Oxytocin linked antistress effects: The relaxation and growth effect. Acta Physiol Scand Supp. 1997; 640: 38-42.
  • Groer M, Davis MW. Postpartum stress: current concepts and the possible protective role of breastfeeding. JOGN Nursing. 2002; 31: 411-417.
  • Winberg J. Mother and newborn baby: mutual regulation of physiology and behaviour - a selective review. Dev Phychobiol. 2005; 47(3): 217-229.
  • Strathearn L. Maternal neglect: oxytocin, dopamine and the neurobiology of attachment. J Neuroendocrinol. 2011; 23(1): 1054-1065.
  • Vargas-Martínez F, Schanler RJ, Abrams SA, Hawthorne KM, Landers S, Guzman-Bárcenas J, Muñoz O, Henriksen T, Petersson M, Uvnäs-Moberg K, Jiménez-Estrada I. Oxytocin, a main breastfeeding hormone, prevents hypertension acquired in utero: A therapeutics preview. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2017; 1861(1 Pt A): 3071-3084.
  • Jonas W, Woodside B. Physiological mechanisms, behavioral and psychological factors influencing the transfer of milk from mothers to their young. Horm Behav. 2016; 77: 167-81.