Home Headlines Mexican scientists create powdered breast milk to feed vulnerable babies

Mexican scientists create powdered breast milk to feed vulnerable babies

by Yucatan Times
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Mexican scientists have transformed breast milk into a powdered food with which they nourish the children of imprisoned mothers and premature babies with critical health problems who cannot be breastfed by their own mothers.

Blanca Aguilar Uscanga, a researcher at the University of Guadalajara’s exact sciences campus, said that she worked for a decade to make breast milk available for a long time without losing its natural nutrients.

What began as a thesis project for her doctorate in biotechnology later became a human milk bank to feed the children of prison mothers who could not breastfeed, and then a process to dry and pulverize that milk.

He explained that other milk banks in hospitals in Mexico conserve this liquid through a freezing and pasteurization process in which some of its properties are lost.

“In the process of pasteurization and freezing and then thawing again, many nutrients are lost and I thought: it is important to look for a preservation process in which it is easier to manipulate the food and (that has) longer life,” he explained in an interview.

With the collaboration of undergraduate and doctoral students, and after several years, they found that spray-drying was the most suitable for both the safety of the milk and its quality, by maintaining proteins, lipids, and fats at 98 percent and substances such as lactoferrin, essential for the baby’s growth, up to 90 percent.

Contrary to what commercial companies do, the powder contains no additives, preservatives, or flavorings and is as close as possible to fresh human milk, Alonso Amezcua, one of the project’s researchers, told EFE.

“We have 95 percent similarity to fresh human milk, that is, we preserve all the nutritional, microbiological and energy content and, above all, the immunological part, which is what is giving us many benefits with these babies,” he explained.

White gold

The breast milk is collected thanks to donations from lactating women, who are subjected to exhaustive medical and laboratory tests to verify that both they and their milk are free of any disease.

Each particle of the 100 liters of milk that the specialists have dried is treated as “if it were gold” and handled so that it can be used in its entirety, which is why they found a way to package it and pack it to avoid contamination, revealed the academic.

Each liter of milk is converted into 980 grams of powder and each measure in the containers has 5 grams of food ready to prepare 50 milliliters of milk, adding the right amount of water, like any milk formula. A newborn baby consumes between one and one and a half liters of this solution daily.

One hope

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the Civil Hospital of Guadalajara receives premature and critically ill children who are usually intubated and under treatment for several weeks.

Some of them are children of mothers with some kind of addiction who give birth in this public hospital and who, due to the contamination of toxic substances, cannot breastfeed them or, sometimes, abandon them to their fate.

The hope for these babies has been powdered breast milk, which is easier to digest than commercial formula and strengthens their immune system faster and helps them to get out of critical situations in less time, explains physician Elisa García Morales, coordinator of the Neonatology specialty.

“If I make them tolerate food well, the child will grow, and if he grows, I will be able to withdraw all the ventilatory and antibiotic support, and he will go home faster. Every day that I reduce (their stay) I do not spend on what the staff requires and there is a gain for the child and the family when they have them at home,” he said.

Specialists have proven that the intake of this milk has helped the babies gain weight and have the conditions to not depend on intubation to breathe and eat.

“We have managed to reduce up to 50 percent those stays in intensive care units, they are no longer intubated, they are not with all this invasive equipment that delays the baby’s recovery,” said Alonso Amezcua.

The work team has a waiting list of babies in delicate medical conditions or in vulnerable social situations who could be fed with this product, so they are looking for nursing mothers who want to donate, in order to have the milk available.

TYT Newsroom

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1 comment

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