A green environment may affect the health of babies by changing the composition of breast milk! | GeneOnline News

Living in a green environment can affectbreast milkThe composition of oligosaccharides (oligosaccharides), which may affect the health of infants. According to a study conducted by the University of Turku in Finland, an increase in the diversity and proportion of green environments in residential areas is closely related to an increase in the diversity of oligosaccharide components in breast milk.

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Green environment affects oligosaccharide composition in breast milk

A recent study conducted by the Department of Biology and Public Health at the University of Turku, Finland found a link between green residential environments and the oligosaccharide content of breast milk. Oligosaccharides are the most common molecules in breast milk after lactose and fat. Up to now, about 200 kinds of oligosaccharides have been found, which can form different complex structures.

Oligosaccharides in breast milk protect babies from harmful microorganisms and reduce the risk of allergies and diseases. In addition, oligosaccharides are closely related to the immune system and gut microbiota, which can also affect the health of infants.

Intimate contact with nature, influence the health of children through breast milk

The University of Turku in Finland started a long-term follow-up study called STEPS in 2007, and a total of 795 mothers joined the study. The breast milk of each mother was collected when the baby was three months old, and the oligosaccharide content in the breast milk was analyzed by Bode Lab, University of California San Diego.

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The researchers primarily looked at associations between attributes of the green environment surrounding the mother’s home, which was measured around the family home at the time of the child’s birth. The indicators studied include greenness (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, NDVI), vegetation diversity (Vegetation Cover Diversity, VCDI) and naturalness index (Naturalness Index, NI), and oligosaccharide components in breast milk ( human milk oligosaccharides, HMO) that is, residential areas are estimated by human impacts and interventions. These measures were independent of the education level, occupation, marital status, and health status of the children’s parents, as well as the socioeconomic disadvantage of the area in which they lived. (See Figure 1)

Figure 1 Correlations between residential green environment and HMO diversity, individual HMO concentrations, and HMO structural groups

Data from this study on environment and breast milk in Finland showed that the diversity of oligosaccharides increased when the mother’s living area contained more green surroundings, and it was also observed that the composition of oligosaccharides also changed. Although not yet fully proven, breastfeeding may play a mediating role in the living environment and infant health. Environment-related changes and HMO composition may lead to changes in infant gut microbiota, which are related to infant immunity and health. Daily exposure to nature may be beneficial to the health of breastfeeding mothers and their infants, and this study needs more evidence to support this conclusion.

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