Human Breast Milk

Human breast milk has a massive influence on infant health. Aside from being a vital food source, breast milk is rich in macromolecular and cellular components that modulate the immune system of the developing infant. Also a rich source of probiotics, altering the composition of breast milk can have devastating effects on infant health and development. 

The focus of my research in the lab of Dr. Heather Tinsley as an undergrad was to identify the molecular components of human breast milk that confer antimicrobial activity against “bad” bacteria in infants. I found that the component of breast milk containing soluble proteins and sugars had the highest activity against the common neonatal pathogen Streptococcus agalactiae. This finding was consistent with current research, which is demonstrating the importance of human milk oligosaccharides in infant immune modulation and bacterial flora development. 

From Nature (journal)