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Acta Paediatr Suppl. 1999 Aug;88(430):27-41.

Human milk as a carrier of biochemical messages.

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Combined Program of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02115, USA.


Not only does breast milk provides an ideal nutrient composition for the newborn, but it also contains a variety of substances that may actively influence growth and development of the infant and stimulate neonatal protection against gastrointestinal diseases. Hormones, growth factors, cytokines and even whole cells are present in breast milk and act to establish biochemical and immunological communication between mother and child. In addition, milk nutrients such as nucleotides, glutamine and lactoferrin have been shown to influence gastrointestinal development and host defense. The unique properties of milk as a mediator of biochemical messages will be presented and the clinical significance of breastfeeding in the prevention of neonatal gastrointestinal diseases will be discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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