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Breastmilk Ecology: Genesis of Infant Nutrition (BEGIN)

The Academy and NICHD co-authored a series of articles published in a supplement in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Published June 5, 2023

A deeper understanding of the biology of human milk is essential to addressing ongoing and emerging questions about infant feeding practices. Human milk is a complex biological system, a matrix of many interacting parts that is more than the sum of those parts, and human milk production needs to be studied as an ecology that consists of inputs from the lactating parent, their breastfed baby and their respective environments.

The “Breastmilk Ecology: Genesis of Infant Nutrition (BEGIN)” Project was designed to examine this ecology, as well as its functional implications for both the parent and infant and to explore ways in which this emerging knowledge can be expanded via a targeted research agenda and translated to support the community’s efforts to ensure safe, efficacious and context-specific infant feeding practices in the United States and globally.

A series of manuscripts address the following five themes: 1) parental inputs to human milk production and composition; 2) the components of human milk and the interactions of those components within a complex biological system; 3) infant inputs to the matrix, emphasizing the bidirectional relationships associated with the breastfeeding dyad; 4) the application of existing and new technologies and methodologies to study human milk as a complex biological system; and 5) approaches to translation and implementation of new knowledge to support safe and efficacious infant feeding practices.

View this series of manuscripts, which is freely available in a supplement in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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