Breast feeding myths & truths

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27 Feb, 2022

Breast milk is undoubtedly the best food for a new-born baby. This is because a new born has various types of nutrient requirements, which include proteins, minerals, and vitamins. All these nutrients are present adequately in breast milk.

There are two types of proteins present in breast milk - whey protein and casein. Breast milk is rich in whey protein and less in casein protein. Whey protein is good for infant health because it is easier to digest, explains healthcare practitioners at the Department of Obstetrics &and Maternity at AMRI Hospitals Kolkata. On the other hand, casein is a little difficult to digest. We can elaborately discuss the two types of proteins:

Casein and Whey

Whey proteins are liquid and extremely simple to digest. Apart from it, whey protein contains certain antibodies, like lactoferrin, and muramidase, which fortifies a baby’s immunity system to repel infections.

Casein protein levels are relatively higher and these have additional complicated macromolecule molecules, which are tougher to digest. Soon after your baby is born, your breast milk contains 90% whey protein and almost 10% casein proteins. Once your breast milk comes in and becomes mature milk, it has 60% whey and 40% casein. And with the passage of time, the whey macromolecules continue to drop till there is a uniform quantity of both whey and casein later, during lactation.

If we talk about other sources of milk such as cow’s milk, then the constituency of the two types of protein is slightly different. In the case of cow milk, whey protein is less and casein is higher. Whey protein is definitely beneficial for babies, but casein is harmful because babies have difficulty in digesting it, and leads to other allergic manifestations as well, suggest medical practitioners at AMRI Hospitals, one of the best maternity hospital in Kolkata.

This is why breast milk is always healthier than outside milk. Apart from all the proteins, vitamins, and minerals in breast milk, there are some other components like lactoferrin and immunoglobulin, which are protective factors that are directly transmitted from a mother to a baby, through breast milk. And this helps in generating the inherent immunity system of babies. This immunogenicity not only helps the baby during the initial 6 months, but also protects the baby from various types of diseases like diarrhoea, allergies, etc at a later stage.

Nutrients present in breast milk


Breast milk is formedfrom90% water, and also the rest of its nutritious contents are found in that water. The physical body desires water for nearly everything. Among other alternative things, it keeps a baby hydrated, helps in managing blood heat, lubricates joints, and protects organs.


Carbohydrates are the body's best supply of energy. The primary sugar in breast milk comes from a form of lactose, known as a disaccharide.

Compared to cow's milk, there are way more disaccharides in human milk. Disaccharide not only provides your baby with a serious supply of energy for growth and development, it also helps in developing the brain.

Other carbohydrates found in breast milk, like oligosaccharides are required to push healthy microorganisms within the intestines. These microorganisms defend your baby's gut and help fight back diseases such as infant diarrhea.

Lipids (Fats)

Lipids may form only around 4% of breast milk on their own, but supplies50% of the calories that your baby gets from breast milk

Lipids are a serious source of energy, sterol, which helps in controlling cholesterol, and essential fatty acids like DHA. According to the obstetricians at the maternity department of AMRI Hospitals, lipids are necessary for the development of a baby's brain, central nervous system, and vision.

Lipids are liable for your baby's weight gain as he grows. Your breast milk contains all the lipids that your baby wants. However, if you are on a feeder diet, discuss along with your doctor whether or not you must take a DHA supplement, to make sure you are getting enough lipid intake.


Proteins build, strengthen, and repair the body. They are additionally required to form hormones, enzymes, and antibodies. The protein in your breast milk is very easy for your baby to digest and your kid desires protein to grow and develop. One vital protein in breast milk is lactoferrin. Lactoferrin moves iron through your baby's body and also helps in guarding the newborn's intestines from infections.

Immunoglobulins (Antibodies)

Immunoglobulins are antibodies, which fight back germs that cause ill-health and unwellness. Your breast milk is like your baby's initial immunizing agent. It contains antibodies that fight back bacteria, viruses, fungus, and parasites. The immune properties found in breast milk can also help protect your kid from respiratory illness, ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea, and different dangerous infections that have an effect on newborns and infants.

The main protein in your breast milk is secretory immunoglobulin (IgA). Immune serum globulin coats your baby's lungs and intestines. It seals them to stop germs from coming into your baby's body and blood. The antibodies in your breast milk are even more important if you have got a preterm baby or a baby, that the World  Health Organization can move to childcare.


Hormones have many roles within the body; they control growth and development, metabolism, stress, pain, and vital signs. The hormones in breast milk are lactogen, thyroid hormones, growth factors, relaxin, endorphin, glycoprotein, cortisol, leptin, oestrogen, progestogen, and many more. Scientists are still conducting research on hormones that are present in breast milk, making an attempt to find out more about these hormones and how they function in a baby, suggesting leading doctors at AMRI Hospitals.


Scientists have found more than 40 different enzymes in human breast milk, which are all unlike each other. Some enzymes help in digestion by breaking down fats or proteins, while others defend your baby from germs and sickness. There are some enzymes about the functions of which scientists are not yet certain. While we are yet unaware of the functions of all enzymes, we, however, understand that they do play a crucial role in the health and development of your child.


Vitamins contribute to healthy bones, eyes, as well as skin. They additionally facilitate to the prevention of diseases like scurvy and rachitis or rickets. The vitamins and minerals in breast milk are necessary for your baby's health as he/she grows. However, the amount of vitamin D, folate, or Vitamin B6 (depending on your diet) could also be lower in some female babies. Therefore, refer to your doctor and your baby's paediatrician concerning the suggested aliment supplements that you may require while breastfeeding.


Breast milk is full of minerals, including iron, zinc, calcium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, and selenium. Vitamins are required for healthy growth and development. They help in building sturdy bones and building red blood cells so that these can move oxygen through the body, keeping muscles and nerves functioning properly.

Amino Acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Once the protein is digested in your baby's abdomen, it breaks down into amino acids. There are more than 20 totally different amino acids found in breast milk.

Taurine is one such, which is found in giant amounts in breast milk but not at all found in cow milk. Studies show that taurine has several functions, in combination with bile acids and plays a crucial role in the development of a baby’s brain and eye.

Some of the other amino acids found in breast milk include aminoalkanoic acid, cysteine, lysine, essential amino acid, tyrosine, and essential amino acids.


Lactoferrin is a part of whey protein. It's an iron-binding protein, which attaches to iron and transports it throughout the body but that is not the sole function of lactoferrin. It also stimulates the system and helps breastfed babies fight back organisms that may cause bacterial, viral, and flora infections of the digestive tube.

It has been observed that prolonged breastfeeding protects a child from several diseases like diabetes, diarrhoea, cancers, etc, especially in the later stage of a baby’s life. In all these aspects, leading obstetricians at the maternity department of AMRI Hospitals Kolkata say that breast milk is the most ideal food for the baby and feeding the baby directly from the breast is always advisable, as there are important vitamins and minerals in breast milk. However, if problem persists, then mothers can feed milk from a bottle or a bowl, but this simultaneously exposes the kid to all types of infections. So, mothers should try and feed their babies directly from the breast.


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