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"Fossil teeth shed light on ancient breastfeeding practices"

  • Environmental Factor
  • New York, NY
  • (August 01, 2019)

Our ancestors relied on breastmilk for infant nutrition for at least the first year of life and then experienced seasonal food shortages according to new research partially funded by NIEHS. They may have relied on breastmilk to supplement the diet during those periods. The findings, published July 15 in Nature, may have important implications for breastfeeding in modern populations and could help optimize the design of infant formula, according to the authors. “Studying how breastfeeding practices have evolved helps us understand how this complex source of nutrition has been specifically tailored for human babies,” said co-first author Christine Austin, PhD., from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Industrialization and agriculture likely changed human breastfeeding practices, and by learning more about what our bodies adapted to, we can better understand how these recent changes are affecting health and development of infants and mothers,” she added.

 — Christine Austin, PhD, Assistant Professor, Environmental Medicine and Public Health, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

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