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Breast-milk has night time flavour

Monday October 5th, 2009

Baby breastfeedingBreast-feeding at night may help babies to sleep, researchers have reported.

Breast-milk may contain special chemicals in the evening to help put infants to sleep, according to a Spanish study.

Researchers found the components of the milk, known as nucleotides, change in the course of every 24 hours.

The chemicals are known to excite or relax the nervous system.

Researchers found the highest levels of nucleotides were found during the night, from 8pm to 8am. The study, reported in Nutritional Neuroscience, was conducted with 30 Spanish women.

Although the finding may help encourage women with breast-feeding, it also has implications for hospitals that collect breast-milk and women who express their milk for later use.

Researcher Cristina Sanchez, of the University of Extremadura, Spain, said: "You wouldn't give anyone a coffee at night, and the same is true of milk - it has day-specific ingredients that stimulate activity in the infant, and other night-time components that help the baby to rest."

She added: "It is a mistake for the mother to express the milk at a certain time and then store it and feed it to the baby at a different time."

Nutritional Neuroscience Vol. 12(1):2-8. 2009.

Tags: Child Health | Childbirth and Pregnancy | Diet & Food | Europe | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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