Human milk contains 32 soluble factors and 5 cell types. The list of both proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory milk cytokines is growing.1 Studies in the 1960s found cells (neutrophils, macrophages, lymphocytes, stem cells, and epithelial cells) in fresh, unpasteurized milk. Newborns ingest 108 maternal cells/d, with 80% being macrophages, originating from maternal peripheral blood monocytes. These milk components protect the breast from infection while modulating the developing neonatal immune system.2 Immunomodulation of an infant’s infection by mother’s milk has been known since 2011, but the precise mechanisms remain incompletely understood. Milk is a dynamic, living fluid and changes with the varying demands of the infant.1
Baban B, Malik A, Bhatia J, Yu JC. Presence and Profile of Innate Lymphoid Cells in Human Breast Milk. JAMA Pediatr. 2018;172(6):594–596. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.0148
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