A research group studying breast milk at the University of Manitoba has been given $6.5 million in order to create a new global initiative from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, according to CTV News.
The research will hopefully uncover new information on infant nutrition as well as recommendations regarding infants who can’t be breastfed or suffer infections from it. The research could help to optimize alternatives for said infants.
The grant would also be used to help the International Milk Composition Consortium better establish itself. The purpose of the group is to analyze breast milk and what components are connected to the growth and resilience of infants.
The components of breastmilk that are deemed either nutritional or not can vary greatly from one woman to another. Yet, little is known about these variations or their root causes according to the University.
“Breast milk is fascinating,” said Dr. Meghan Azad, a U of M assistant professor, in the release.
“It is so fundamentally important to infant health, and yet we know surprisingly little about breast milk composition and its variation around the world. This project will help us learn about how human milk helps human babies develop and grow up healthy.”
Research groups from Tanzania, Pakistan, Nepal, and Burkina Faso will be brought on to cooperate and share their research with the consortium as well. It will also include data scientists as well as human milk scientists. The work will begin with a sample size of 1,200 mother-infant pairs.