Environmentally friendly breastfeeding signals


LACTATION integrates a powerful biological unit, the nursing mother-infant dyad, and is energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

Milk ducts and lobes are embedded between fat and glands, and they develop under hormonal influences through signals from mid-pregnancy for baby, who’s on the way. Hormones influence uptake of nutrients from mum’s own circulation and, enhanced by skin-to-skin contact, mum’s hormonal profile encourages milk flow. Milk is squeezed into the nipple and baby’s suckling, an energy driven process, encourages milk removal and its continued flow. Breastmilk in baby’s gut transforms into nutrition, immunological substances, bioactive ingredients, anti-cancer agents, hormones and mysterious cellular messengers. Unlike formula milk, there is no need for cultivating, creating, storing or purchasing these myriad dynamic functions.

The energy of breastfeeding is mostly conserved within a feedback loop embracing giver and recipient. Nutritional vibrancy is transmuted to physical and emotional energy enhancing growth, development and disease protection. The efficient mother-infant pair saves the environment that would otherwise be affected in many ways – by poor growth, suboptimal development, short- and long-term diseases that drain resources and pollute atmospheres.

As the baby suckles, baby-led cues, perhaps through baby’s saliva, stimulate milk that is personalised, greater in amount, with illness specific antibodies. There is varied milk composition at different times of the day over the course of lactation in mothers who deliver preterm infants and among mothers of different races.

Breastfeeding has naturally renewable resources of nutrients and is sufficient for a term infant’s growth and development, even when mum’s own nutrition is inadequate. Breastmilk comprises water, protein, fat and lactose. Adapting to requirements in baby, foremilk is different from hindmilk. During early lactation, the protein content in breastmilk is higher, decreasing within 4-6 weeks or more of lactation. 

Nutrients in breastmilk can transform and perform entirely different sets of functions. Alpha-lactalbumin, an abundant protein in breastmilk, synthesises lactose, without any effect on tumour cells. However, in baby’s stomach, it unfolds and combines with an omega-9 fatty acid in milk, protecting against cancers.

White blood cells and antibodies in breastmilk are high in numbers in early postpartum, and colostrum protects the vulnerable child from infections. In the first two weeks of delivery, white blood cells decrease, maintained throughout lactation unless the mother or her infant becomes infected, when these cells increase again to protect one or both from infections. Infection protection reduces antibiotic usage, medication and hospitalisation, all of which aren’t friendly to the environment.

Maternal gut microbes reach mum’s lactating breasts, through a link between her gut and her breasts. This allows immune factors enriched by mum’s exposures to strengthen baby’s immunity in  baby’s environment. A tetrad comprising mum, baby, milk and microbes shared between them is a confined feedback loop perpetually transferring bacteria between them, resourcefully utilising mum’s immune experiences.

Breastmilk contains diverse glycans, energetically costly for mum to produce, but the energy isn’t wasted because of the many functions they provide. While lactose – a glycan – is nutritive, other glycans are absorbed and utilised for dietary calories. Yet others prevent microbes from binding to intestinal mucous membranes, reducing infections. Glycans stimulate growth of beneficial bacteria with possible roles in preventing short- and long-term diseases of body and brain.  

While by breastfeeding itself, there is no need to pour in water and clean bottles, the gut environment provided by breastmilk glycans are certainly environmentally responsive. Protection from diarrheas means fewer discarded soiled pampers, reduced hospitalisation costs and fecal contamination. Fecal contamination of the environment can trigger infectious pandemics with massive socioeconomic and human costs.

Glycans have been synthesised in biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, possibly emulating their dynamic empowerment of breastmilk nutrition.

Cross talk, through microRNAs (miRNAs), within “exosomes” in breastmilk could regulate proteins for immune development. Stem cells in milk may support growth, repair and regeneration from cellular damage. These may well be breastmilk agents supporting the environment by reducing social burden and environmental disruption. – June 30, 2020.

* Dr Prameela Kannan Kutty is professor of paediatrics at Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.



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Comments


  • Breastmilk is indeed a gift from God to humans. Just look at its numerous benefits, i believe the author can go on and on. It can even be tailored to the babys need! Where else can one get such milk in the market. Utilise it, enlighten others, and together we can create a healthier world with stronger leaders.

    Great article with comprehensive content! Thx

    Posted 1 week ago by Eugene Hew · Reply

    • Thank you . Infant feeding whether through breast or bottle is vital for survival and mothers can bond with their babies no matter what, but breastfeeding is certainly environmentally friendly. Thanks for reading the article.

      Posted 1 week ago by Prameela Kutty · Reply

  • Indeed a godly connection between the mother and her child. Everywhere in the world including animals have this connection. To much components needed for the baby to survive and the only person that can give those are the mother's themselves. This connection not only benefit the mother and the baby, but also to the world in ertain ways it have. Much healthier, much more environmental friendly.

    Posted 1 week ago by Mohammad Aniq Nasruddin · Reply

    • Thanks for taking time to read the article
      Appreciate the comments

      Posted 1 week ago by Prameela Kutty · Reply

  • With all these technologies and inventions getting better and better all these years, nothing still can replace something from nature . Especially with non of the side effects and with tons of benefits like that of a mother's breast milk. Adding more to those tonnes it is also environmentally friendly like the author had mentioned which makes it even more irreplaceable gift of nature.

    Posted 1 week ago by Thecican Mathivanan · Reply

    • Hi! Never meant to make non breastfeeders feel bad. Apologies for that.
      Do highlight areas of poor grammar probably overlooked .
      Thanks for feedback

      Posted 1 week ago by Prameela Kutty · Reply

    • Thank you .

      Posted 1 week ago by Prameela Kutty · Reply

  • I found the language of this text disturbing. While I totally agree breast is best, it is bound to make mothers who dont have enough milk to feel totally inadequate. Not everyone can breastfeed and they feel bad enough about it without this sort of article. Plus the grammar is awful. It should have been edited before publication.

    Posted 1 week ago by Malaysia New hope · Reply

  • The wonders of breast milk is countless yet the author has successfully put forth the benefits that are important for the baby's growth, health and well-being. The author even successfully explains the process that takes place during breastfeeding which provides the infant with natural protection against diseases. This article was a good and informative read which is conveyed in a simple manner for the common man.
    The author has done a great job in conveying the benefits of breast milk to the general public.

    Posted 1 week ago by Janaarthanan Jivananthan · Reply

    • Thanks for the kind comments, glad you liked the article

      Posted 1 week ago by Prameela Kutty · Reply

  • Such an insightful article about the wonders of breastfeeding & the abundant benefits in breastmilk. The writer has explained about the physiology of breastfeeding and the changing components of breastmilk as the month progress, in the best way possible. Indeed it would encourage more mums to opt for breastfeeding.

    Posted 1 week ago by Lavanya Sivaji · Reply

    • Thank you. Theres more we need to discover of the physiology at the molecular level but yes theres so much science in this . Grateful for your comments

      Posted 1 week ago by Prameela Kutty · Reply

  • Very informational and insightful article. The saying 'mother needs to breastfeed, child needs to be breastfed' should be practiced and cultivated more widely. New mothers who are sceptical in breastfeeding should learn the proper techniques and skills. This does not only help the child with all the benefits mentioned by the author, but also develop and indescribable bond between mother and child. Hopefully this article will be shared to everyone else. Looking forward to read more amazing articles from the author.

    Posted 1 week ago by Leeynesh Sooriyapiragasam · Reply

    • Techniques are important to teach mothers. Thanks for the encouraging comments

      Posted 1 week ago by Prameela Kutty · Reply

  • To think how much humans are blessed with such i may say 'powers' is mind blowing. Everytime i read about the wonders of breastmilk i get touched with just how much we receive from god. Breastmilks are free, filled with mindblowing nutritions and antibodies and environmentally friendly. This is why people need to read more and educate themselves so that it can open their eyes when they know such facts. Thank you so much author for writing this and letting people know how wonderful breastmilks are!

    Posted 1 week ago by Sharifah Shasha · Reply

  • To think how much humans are blessed with such i may say 'powers' is mind blowing. Everytime i read about the wonders of breastmilk i get touched with just how much we receive from god. Breastmilks are free, filled with mindblowing nutritions and antibodies and environmentally friendly. This is why people need to read more and educate themselves so that it can open their eyes when they know such facts. Thank you so much author for writing this and letting people know how wonderful breastmilks are!

    Posted 1 week ago by Sharifah Shasha · Reply

    • Thank you for the valuable comments .

      Posted 1 week ago by Prameela Kutty · Reply

  • While the mechanisms and theoretical benefits offered through breastfeeding provided in the article is insightful, translating these benefits in reality could be more complex. As a clinician, i personally feel an empathetic and pragmatic approach is needed. Often the success of breastfeeding is not only determined by biological factor rather a complex interaction of psychological, social, cultural and economic determinants. While we must champion the practice of breastfeeding and applaud successful mothers; we are equally obliged to determine why others are not as successful or 'fail'. In practice, being a patient listener to mothers of their dilemma and difficulties, can be more therapeutic then flooding them with information they probably already know.

    Posted 1 week ago by KY Lee · Reply

    • Thanks for the comment.
      While an entire article could yet be written on supporting mothers who do breastfeed and those who cant , and by the way thats what Ive been doing in all my years of practice , the article was written to give a feel of how much we really dont know about breastfeeding and certainly not to flood with information .
      But your comments are certainly well taken and hope for more comments in my writings . Cant thank you more .

      Posted 1 week ago by Prameela Kutty · Reply

  • God has given the world especially human a great gift, breastmilk. No matter how hard we tried to mimic it , it would never replace it. Breast milk itself has plentiful of advantages to both mother and her baby in which infant formula could never achieve it. It is a fact that we could not deny it. Hence, in order to protect our children, breastmilk was the one out of two options which can achieve it . Breastmilk plus vaccination, make our country bright future. Thanks author for this great article.

    Posted 1 week ago by Samuel Ting · Reply

  • Thanks . Loads of immunological lessons in mums milk.

    Posted 1 week ago by Prameela Kutty · Reply