Sunday, February 02, 2003

Yahoo! News - Babies' Mental Delay Tied to Moms' Vegan Diet Yahoo! News,

By Alison McCook,

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) -

"The breast-fed infants of two mothers who did not eat any animal products, including milk and eggs, developed brain abnormalities as a result of a vitamin-B12 deficiency, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news - web sites) (CDC) reported Thursday.

The primary sources of vitamin B12, which is essential for brain development, are animal products like meat, dairy products and eggs. Since the mothers ate little or no animal products, too little vitamin B12 was transmitted to their children through breast milk, according to the CDC's Dr. Maria Elena Jefferds.

[This is the second big news in recent years on how diet while breastfeeding can affect a baby's health outcome (the first one was widespread coverage of omega 3 deficiencies in diet contributing to low levels of dha in breast milk.) Should breastfeeding mothers be advised to eat a healthy diet? Women are currently told it doesn't really matter what they eat, the body will still produce optimum nutrition for baby (although their health may suffer). Maybe we should rethink our health promotion goals and use the time of pregnancy *and breastfeeding* as an opportunity to counsel women on healthy eating for themselves and for their children. Women are highly motivated at this time to do the best for their babies. It's a great time to plug nutritional practices that can translate into healthy eating for the whole family - for life. - JC]
Newspaper apologizes for "Breast Milk Killed Baby" promo
January 31, 20...

The Star regrets any confusion and distress that the poster may have caused. [This story was about the woman in California who has been charged with killing her baby due to meth transmitted in breast milk. Interesting that it was a breastfeeding forum that applied pressure, prompting the apology. - JC]
The revolutionary molecules that turn bland food bodacious Globe and Mail,
Saturday, February 1, 2003 ? Page A1

"In a small office just west of the New Jersey Turnpike, researchers are taking the human taste bud into a brave new world....

A quiet revolution is under way in the world of flavour research, blending chemistry, molecular biology and genetics to cook up recipes your mother never imagined: In this emerging field, it's not the food that will be modified, but you -- the eater.

Imagine a compound that could dupe your tongue into thinking bland oatmeal was hot-fudge-sundae sweet? Or another that could make kids hoover spinach like Popeye?

"You could make healthy foods taste better," Alejandro Marangoni, a food scientist at the University of Guelph, said of the new field. "Just blocking bitterness has huge potential. Somebody's going to make a lot of money."

Linguagen's "bitter blocker" compound, which received a U.S. patent this month, is the first chemical known to inhibit the taste of bitterness by altering human perception instead of flavour. But it's unlikely to be the last.
By temporarily suppressing or enhancing molecular signals in the taste cells that blanket the tongue, researchers at several centres are devising ways to trick the brain into believing it's eating something that it's not.

Food and drug manufacturers traditionally rely on sugar, salt, and fat to mask unpleasant flavours such as bitterness. But that unholy trinity lies behind a raft of health problems, obesity and high blood pressure among them.

"I'm excited about the possibilities of all of this; there are all kinds of applications," said Linda Bartoshuk, who works on human taste perception at Yale University. "The more we learn about taste, the more clever we are going to become at manipulating flavours."

Dr. Bartoshuk called Linguagen's bitter-blocker "the real thing."

"I've tried it myself," she said.

Mixing it with water and quinine, a common bitter ingredient in tonic water, Dr. Bartoshuk gulped it back with few worries about the bitter-blocker's safety. After all, the compound, adenosine monophosphate, or AMP, is actually a naturally occurring substance made up of nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA. AMP is found in a wide range of natural foods -- including breast milk.

As Linguagen officials like to point out, there are more than a few of us who have already tried it.

"It intrigues me that [AMP] might be doing the same thing in breast milk," said Dr. Bartoshuk. "Calcium compounds in breast milk are bitter and we have always wondered how supertaster babies [who are more sensitive to flavours] could stand that and maybe breast milk is a natural system using bitter-blockers."

[Hmmm, intrigues me too. - JC]
HIV viral load in breast milk: no easy predictors in South African study30 January 2003,
Julian Meldrum,,

"A simple formula for predicting which mothers may be at highest risk of transmitting HIV through breastfeeding may not be available, according to a South
African study reported in the February 14th edition of AIDS.

The study set out to explore factors related to HIV viral load in breast milk and the risk of transmission from mothers to babies. It also tried to explain why babies that are exclusively breast-fed appear less likely to become HIV positive than babies fed with breastmilk and other food and drink (including water).

The study was carried out in Durban between 1997 and 1999, and recruited 145 breast-feeding HIV positive women. At several time-points after birth (1, 6 and 14 weeks) women expressed milk from each of their breasts which was then tested for HIV and indicators of low-level inflammation (mastitis) which is suspected of boosting HIV viral load in milk....

While the study confirmed that there is a highly significant correlation between mastitis, as shown by the sodium/potassium ratio in the milk exceeding 1.0, it also found that this explained only a small part of the variation in viral load which was found in the different breastmilk samples.
... According to this research, treatments (to deal promptly with infections) and other measures (such as nutritional supplements and education on how best to breast-feed babies) to prevent low-level mastitis might be expected to prevent as few as 5% of cases of HIV transmission to babies. Nonetheless, because these measures are of low cost and can benefit mothers and infants regardless of HIV status, the case for implementing them is strong.

The need for further research, including studies to look at the impact of ARV treatment of breastfeeding women on the levels of HIV in their milk, is clear.

[Can't argue with that conclusion... - JC] | Outrage over breast milk banquets, January 30, 2003
"REVELATIONS that a restaurant in China is serving dishes cooked with human breast milk farmed from mothers living in rural areas have sparked public fury in China.

Several editorials in the Chinese press slammed the meals as "immoral", while online chat rooms blasted the restaurant owner and threatened to tear his place down.

"Goddammit, it is disgusting and wrong to deceive the young peasant mothers," who were reportedly used to provide the milk, one young woman surnamed Huang said on the website." [A much better reason to end the practice - The "public health" concern made me wonder what the worry was exactly - they were *cooking* with the breastmilk, after all. - JC]