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Breast Milk Composition

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Synonyms

Human milk; Lactation

Definition

The biologically normal contents of human milk

Introduction

Human breast milk is a complex and adaptive fluid, comprised of a vast array of bioactive substances. The function of human milk is not only to provide essential nutrition to the breastfeeding infant, but also to enhance growth and development, modulate immunity, and encourage the establishment of a diverse microbiome (Andreas et al. 2015). The exact formulation of human milk is subject to huge variation. This is because the determination of the contents of human milk is through a complex interplay of maternal, infant, and environmental factors. Time-dependent changes further adapt the composition of human milk to align with a growing infant’s needs, as milk progresses from colostrum to transitional and finally to mature milk. The culmination of these regulatory mechanisms is a biofluid that is specifically tailored and responsive to the needs of the infant. The primary biologically...

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Correspondence to Myles Loughnan .

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Loughnan, M., Mehring-Le-Doare, K. (2021). Breast Milk Composition. In: Shackelford, T.K., Weekes-Shackelford, V.A. (eds) Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-19650-3_828

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