The newborn is fed with the exclusive secretions obtained from the mammary gland
of the mother. This statement is true for all the mammals living on the planet.
However, due to reasons such as multiple births, lack of or inadequate secretion
of milk in the mother, early weaning of kids from the mother due to modern
lifestyle or misconception among the new mothers regarding the breast feeding
and when mothers have the habit of using narcotics and whenever suffering from
communicable and infectious diseases, it is advised not to breast feed the young
For reasons best known to the human being, the weaned child has to
permanently depend on some other alternative source of milk supply than the most
compatible source i.e. human milk or breast milk till the end.
The composition of breast milk consists of protein, fat and lactose and other
minerals and vitamins. The protein is present at lower level than the fat
component in human milk
Lactoferrin is an iron binding glycoprotein that exists in cow milk at the
level of 0.2 mg per ml. Breast milk contains a higher concentration of
lactoferrin at 0.1 to 0.2 g per 100 ml. It shows antibacterial activity towards
Escherichia coli thus warding of intestine, a potential predator. The
bacteriostatic effect of lactoferrin may be explained by its ability to bind
with iron and thereby preventing its availability to the iron requiring
bacteria, there by preventing their growth.
Breast milk also contains a higher concentration of unsaturated Vitamin B12
binding protein, which competes with bacteria requiring Vitamin B12 for their
growth. A variety of enzymes including lactoperoxidase, xanthin oxidase and
lysozyme also play important role in conferring immunity to the breast fed
infants. Lysozyme in breast milk exerts its bactericidal effect by lysing the
cell wall of the gram positive bacteria.
Lactoperoxidase - thiocyanate - hydrogen peroxide system (otherwise known as
LP system) is another important system exhibiting antibacterial activity.
Intestinal microflora of infant fed with breast milk consists almost bifidus
bacteria. Glycoproteins and oligosaccharides present in appreciable quantities
in breast milk or human milk promotes the growth of bifidus bacteria and thus
confers immunity to the newborn against various diseases. It is an important
constituent of breast milk.
Know more about the composition of breast milk at