Tag Archives: milk

What’s the deal with ‘vaccinated’ breast milk?

Katharine Gammon is a freelance science journalist based in Santa Monica who has written for The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Guardian, and more. This story originally featured on Undark.

“Antibodies!” shouts Elliot, a boisterous almost 5-year-old with a mop of light brown hair, sliding into his spot at the kitchen island in the Missoula, Montana, kitchen of Katy-Robin Garton. Garton has just appeared with freshly pumped breast milk and Elliot waits eagerly beside his little sister Emi, 2, for a mixture of chocolate almond milk, chocolate syrup, and human milk, which he slurps vigorously through a metal straw.

Garton, a documentary filmmaker, sighs as she sets the breast pump parts in the sink. She had mostly put them away for good and was ready to give the pump away to someone else, as Emi was nursing only for comfort once a day. Then her husband Doug, an emergency room physician, suggested she might start pumping again after she received her vaccine shot earlier this year. They’d both started hearing the idea that breast milk—which could hold antibodies that help ward off infection—may provide some protection for kids against COVID-19.

“I said to him, if you’re serious about this and you really think it’s worth it, do the research and let me know and if you say it’s worth it, I’ll do it.” Otherwise, she didn’t want to. “I hate pumping,” Garton says. She also sat down with Elliot and talked about what antibodies could do in his body. When she asked if he’d drink her milk, Garton recalls, “he said, ‘Yeah, cause I’ll be protected.’”

Garton and her family aren’t alone in their hopes. As studies began to show COVID-neutralizing antibodies were present in the milk of vaccinated women, interest has swelled in lactation’s golden nectar. One study, for instance, published in April in the Journal of the American Medical Association, confirmed what earlier research had hinted at: Two types of antibodies that battle COVID-19—IgA and IgG—do appear in breast milk, though IgG represents a small amount of milk antibodies. Two weeks after 84 lactating parents got their first doses of vaccine, 61 percent of milk samples contained IgA antibodies; one week after the second dose, it rose to 86 percent. And IgG antibodies were found in 97 percent of the samples after six weeks of vaccination. While studies have found that antibodies from women who have had COVID-19 can neutralize SARS-CoV-2 in a test tube, Kirsi Jarvinen-Seppo, a doctor and immunologist at the University of Rochester who studies breast milk and infant immune systems, says “this has not been shown yet for the antibodies in human milk from a vaccinated individual.”

Despite the limited data, across the country, interest in what some are calling “vaccinated milk,” bought on the black market, has risen in recent months. Some are reportedly advertising it on Craigslist for $ 3.50 an ounce—more than 10 times the price of gasoline. (This, to be clear, isn’t a great idea: Research has shown that untested milk can have all kinds of bacteria and one small 2015 study found that about 10 percent of samples advertised as human breast milk online contained milk from a cow.) Some adults are getting in on the action, too: Christie Denham, the founder of milk-selling site Happy Bellies Happy Babies, told Yahoo News that she has noticed an increase in requests from men looking for breast milk as a way to protect themselves from coronavirus.

Even for those who are feeding their own milk to their children, it’s not evident that there will be a protective shield—especially for older kids who aren’t getting much breast milk. Previous research on vaccines against other diseases suggests that the best clinical protection is only for exclusively breastfed, young babies. Still, the new interest in the science of human milk is helping the field move from the sidelines to centerstage, and even reshaping vaccine design.

Garton says her family simply hopes that her milk might be an extra layer of protection as they cautiously reopen their circle this summer, sending their son to camp or their daughter to a playdate. Their hope is that it’s a cushion of security for things they want to do. If there is an exposure at nature camp, for example, they wouldn’t feel as worried about their son.

But does it work? The short answer is, we don’t know, says Jarvinen-Seppo. “None of this is known.”


When a lactating parent mounts an immune defense against a virus or bacteria, their immune system produces antibodies in breast milk, mostly in the form of a protein called secretory immunoglobulin A, or IgA. When a baby drinks breast milk, the IgA antibodies coat the mucus membranes of a baby’s nose, lungs, and throat—the same places that a virus or bacteria would enter the body. While it doesn’t necessarily offer complete protection, IgA blocks pathogens from entering by literally blanketing these surfaces. It’s a genius system, says Rebecca Powell, a human milk immunologist at New York’s Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, because it creates custom protection for the environment of the baby and lactating parent.

The secretory IgA antibody is enveloped in another protein that protects it, for the most part, from breaking down, or from acidic environments like the baby’s stomach. “That class of antibody is ideally what you want because it is durable in the baby’s mouth, meaning it’s not getting degraded quickly,” says Powell.

Vaccines aren’t designed with breastfeeding in mind, but they do have an effect on the whole body. When a lactating parent gets a vaccine shot into a muscle, they mount a slightly different immune response, mainly though a different antibody protein in the blood known as IgG, which is more of a systemically-protective antibody, not focused on mucus membranes. IgA is also present, though less than in someone who recovered after a COVID-19 infection. Although IgG is found in breast milk, it’s not clear to what extent IgG acts on the mucosal linings.

Around 65 percent of the secretory IgA survives the trip through the stomach, Powell says, while less IgG survives the stomach. Then, whatever is left over would then be coating the small intestinal area.

At a certain point those tough, protective antibodies are going to break down and find their way into the baby’s diaper—though it’s not clear how long they would stick around in different parts of the body. In some cases the antibodies could be stuck to the cells of the digestive tract so maybe they are not all expelled immediately, says Powell, but it’s still a passive and temporary protection. “If you feed your baby at 8 a.m. and the rest of the day they don’t have any breast milk, it’s all going to go away,” she adds. “It’s highly dependent on what else the baby is eating or drinking.”

To the question of whether families should change their habits to pursue breast milk, Powell says it doesn’t do any harm. “Anything you can do that helps you feel like you’re protecting your children in a pandemic is worthwhile,” she says. “If we’re talking about giving very little milk in a day to a kid who is eating a lot of other stuff, even with the milk, the effect—I don’t know. It’s not the same as mixing medication with ice cream and expecting an effect to last for eight hours. We need to be realistic.”

The research on breast milk immunology at large is still developing, and the researchers Undark spoke to hope to have many more answers soon. They are encouraged by the fact that the antibodies seem to last for a long time—Powell’s research shows that antibodies remain in milk 10 months after a SARS-CoV-2 infection. She says the response after vaccination in milk will likely mirror what happens in blood, but “may not be identical.”

But to fully understand the clinical benefit of vaccination, researchers must design bigger studies and test the rates of coronavirus infection in babies with vaccinated and unvaccinated parents, and in children who are getting some dose of breast milk alongside their normal diet, says Christina Chambers, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego. It’s challenging to design these types of trials, she adds, because babies with COVID-19 often have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.

The children of the women who had received a flu vaccine who got the strongest protective effect were exclusively breastfed and under six months old.

Previous research on vaccines and breast milk is challenging to parse, the experts told Undark. Some research on pertussis and tetanus exists, although it is more descriptive than data driven. Influenza has had the most relevant research, including looking at flu vaccinations and breast milk in larger clinical settings, but even out of those studies, “none of them are perfect,” says Jarvinen-Seppo.

Some of the studies suggest that there seems to be some protection. “Infants who are born to vaccinated mothers seem to have a lower rate of febrile upper respiratory infections in the first six months of life, typically,” Jarvinen-Seppo says. “They typically don’t look at after that time point, so we’re really focusing on young, young infants.”

In one study of 340 pregnant women in Bangladesh, researchers found the children of the women who had received a flu vaccine who got the strongest protective effect were exclusively breastfed and under six months old. Jarvinen-Seppo says this makes sense: “I tend to think that maybe the biggest benefit would be for a small individual, an infant who is exclusively breastfed and therefore is getting a significant amount of this antibody, as opposed to an older individual who’s probably not exclusively breastfed anymore.”

Powell agrees that the best effect is for an exclusively breastfed baby who is being fed every couple of hours, and anything less frequent than that would have a smaller impact. “It doesn’t mean it’s not going to be effective,” she says, “but the likelihood will reduce.”


Historically, breast milk immunology hasn’t been explored in depth, at least in part because this and other areas of women’s health tend to get far less funding than men’s health, says Powell. But the pandemic has actually opened a door for intensive study of human milk.

The level of deep research going on highlights the whole idea of human milk as a tissue, says Chambers. There is increased interest in treating milk in a way similar to blood—not as food, but as a life-saving liquid tissue. “It’s such an amazing fluid that is so understudied and has not been explored to the extent that it could be,” she adds.

Chambers points to a funding announcement, posted in February, from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development on “Human Milk as a Biological System.” “The public health community has come to appreciate that a deeper understanding of the biology of human milk is essential to address ongoing and emerging questions about infant feeding practices,” the announcement reads, adding that it will begin to examine breast milk as a biological system. Chambers says it’s hard to say the new initiative was spurred by the pandemic, but the increased spotlight on breastfeeding didn’t hurt.

The concept of breast milk as medicine could change the course of future pandemics.

But even within the umbrella of women’s health, lactation science lags behind pregnancy and vaccination. While vaccine manufacturers left pregnant and lactating people out of initial trials, they are now conducting trials in pregnant people who are in their second or third trimesters. No such trials are being mounted for lactating women, Chambers says—evidence of a second-tier status. “When you think of it, at any one point in time in the US, we have 4 million pregnancies per year,” she adds. “You have far more than that, women who are breastfeeding, so it affects a lot of people.”

The concept of breast milk as medicine could also change the course of future pandemics. Vaccines could be designed to initiate a secretory antibody response, Powell says, which would most likely involve improved targeting of vaccines to stimulate the mucosal immune system—particularly in the gut, which make the secretory antibodies in milk. “The pandemic has definitely pushed the field of milk immunology forward,” she adds, “because there’s much more interest in it.”

Back in Montana, Garton would like to get her milk supply back up, with the hopes that she can continue giving milk to both her kids until vaccines are authorized for children under 12. Her plan was to pump like crazy, get a supply in the freezer and be done, but it’s been slow so far. She’s also considering giving some to her nephew, who is 1 1/2 years old. “Do I save it for Elliot to get us through to the vaccine or do I share it? she wonders aloud.

“The thing is that we just don’t know,” Doug says.

Author: Purbita Saha
This post originally appeared on Science – Popular Science

Cadbury tells nation to STOP buying Dairy Milk 'for the love of chocolate'

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Life and Style Feed

As the high street reopens and Britons head back to the shops, Cadbury is asking the nation to support local businesses for their next chocolate treat. The company has partnered with six independent shops across the country to help them through the tough times that the pandemic has caused many businesses.

This will be available from May 4 and to claim a free gift courtesy of Cadbury, chocolate fans just need to head to cadburygiftsdirect.co.uk.

Colin O’Toole, Associate Director Marketing Cadbury UK & Ireland at Mondelez said: “We are proud to be supporting local chocolatiers across the UK. 

“As a nation, we’ve always been lucky to have a thriving chocolate scene, full of variety and creativity; and at Cadbury, we of course understand what it’s like to start out as a small independent chocolate shop. 

“So, we wanted to take the opportunity to support our fellow chocolatiers and ask the nation to do the same. 

All of its 61 shops stayed closed when non-essential retail opened on April 12 after the restrictions over the last year had caused the company to suffer.

In a statement the company said: “Like many companies, we have been operating for a long time in a tough and challenging retail environment.

“We have been committed to transforming and growing a successful Thorntons retail estate; this has included significant investments to open new format stores and cafes and ensuring we had stores in the right locations.

“The ongoing impact of COVID-19 and the numerous lockdown restrictions over the last year – especially during our key trading periods at Easter and Christmas – has meant we have been operating in the most challenging circumstances.

“We understand that this will be an uncertain and concerning time for our colleagues and we will actively support them during this period.”

Despite the store closures, Thorntons will still operate online, meaning fans can continue to get their hands on their favourite chocolate.

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Twitter unveils emoji for pro-democracy Milk Tea Alliance

Twitter has launched a new emoji in honor of the online pro-democracy movement Milk Tea Alliance that has gained popularity among protesters in places like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and Myanmar. 

The Twitter Public Policy account announced the emoji late Wednesday in a thread to “celebrate the first anniversary of the #MilkTeaAlliance.” [1]

Tweets that include the hashtag will now also feature an image of a white cup set against a background that features “3 different types of milk tea colours from regions where the Alliance first formed online,” the platform wrote. 

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The movement first arose last year following a Twitter war in which Chinese nationalists accused a young Thai actor and his girlfriend of supporting the ongoing democracy movement in Hong Kong, as well as Taiwanese independence, according to Reuters[5]

Twitter said that since April 2020, it has recorded more than 11 million posts with #MilkTeaAlliance, with conversations hitting peaks when it first launched and again in February following the military-led coup in Myanmar that ousted the country’s civilian government. 

Twitter has created emojis in the past for other social movements that have gained significant traction online, including #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter, writing Thursday that the platform “continues to play a unique role in enabling the public conversation around important social movements that are happening around the world.” 

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“During times of civil unrests or violent crackdowns, it is more important than ever for the public to have access to the #OpenInternet for real-time updates, credible information, and essential services. #KeepitOn,” Twitter added in a follow-up tweet. 

Twitter went on to write, “We strongly believe that having access to the free and #OpenInternet is an essential right and remain a staunch defender and advocate of free expression and condemn #InternetShutdowns.” 

Twitter’s announcement was followed Thursday by Myanmar’s military junta ramping up its crackdown on the country’s internet and communications services. [14]

The Associated Press reported that the military placed further limits on fiber broadband service, which provided the last legal way citizens could communicate with each other.

Burmese authorities were also seen Thursday confiscating satellite dishes. 

The Biden administration on Thursday placed additional sanctions on Myanmar in response to the February coup, which the military has attempted to justify with claims of corruption among now-deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s government. [15]

More than 600 people have been killed thus far as a result of police crackdowns on ongoing anti-coup protests, and more than 2,800 people have been arrested during the demonstrations.

References

  1. ^ announced the emoji (twitter.com)
  2. ^ #MilkTeaAlliance (twitter.com)
  3. ^ pic.twitter.com/QiIBBbKfQc (t.co)
  4. ^ April 8, 2021 (twitter.com)
  5. ^ according to Reuters (www.reuters.com)
  6. ^ #MeToo (twitter.com)
  7. ^ #BlackLivesMatter (twitter.com)
  8. ^ #MilkTeaAlliance (twitter.com)
  9. ^ April 8, 2021 (twitter.com)
  10. ^ #OpenInternet (twitter.com)
  11. ^ #OpenInternet (twitter.com)
  12. ^ #InternetShutdowns (twitter.com)
  13. ^ April 8, 2021 (twitter.com)
  14. ^ ramping up its crackdown (thehill.com)
  15. ^ additional sanctions on Myanmar (thehill.com)

ccastronuovo@thehill.com (Celine Castronuovo)

Review: Stubbs The Zombie In Rebel Without A Pulse – A “Cult Classic” That Has Aged Like Milk


Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

It would probably be the most clichéd thing in the world to make this observation, but Stubbs the Zombie In Rebel Without a Pulse is something of a zombie itself; a game that wouldn’t die, despite widespread apathy. It has something of a reputation as a “cult” hit, but we’re not entirely sure that’s justified. The main selling point of the game was always that it was made in the Halo engine – a fact that becomes most apparent when you hop in the Sod Cannon tank in the second area. Unfortunately, the game seems to have inherited the worst aspects of the classic Bungie series, with enormous, featureless areas and poorly-defined objectives without the salve of having some of the best shooting action ever.

Taking control of the titular Stubbs, you’ll journey through a 1950s Americana-inspired world engaging in rudimentary combat, possessing people and – of course – chowing down on lovely, buttery brains. “Being the zombie” is a compelling idea, and initially it seems like you’re going to have some almost Wonderful 101-esque fun recruiting the undead to your side and forming a groaning army of flesh-eaters, but it quickly becomes clear that these zombies are as dense as you’d probably expect. Fitting for zombie lore, not so great for enjoyable gameplay.

Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

You can have your minions follow you around, but they’ll get hung up on the slightest little incline or seam in the environment, hovering uselessly until you double-back to collect them. This forces you to play terribly conservatively, as you’re more or less defenceless without a meat shield of willing sacrifices and Stubbs moves extremely slowly. His initial attack is a single-press melee swipe that seems to do a random amount of damage and can occasionally dismember, but the main reason to use it is to stun enemies into a state where you can grab them with the X button and chow down on their brains.

Thought-noshing, you see, is the way you replenish your health and various zombie powers that are acquired as you make your way through the game. At the start you just have a (ho, ho) flatulence ability that causes Stubbs to unleash an almighty Bronx cheer, stunning every human in the stench radius and making them easy fodder for a grey matter platter. You’ll later be able to throw “grenades” made out of exploding organs, roll your head along like a bowling ball and – most interestingly – possess other characters, allowing you to take control of them to help turn the tables.

It’s here that Stubbs the Zombie is at its best – depressingly, whenever you’re not playing as Stubbs. Blasting away with your possessed soldier or whoever makes the game into a more conventional third-person shooter, though not exactly a great one. We’d argue it’s not a great sign when the central concept of your game – being a zombie – is less entertaining than your bog-standard shooting, but Stubbs feels like a flawed premise to begin with. It’s a fractured, confusing game that feels more like a proof of concept than a complete entity of its own.


Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

The attempts at comedy registered to us as wide misfires, but – say it with us – your mileage may vary. The ghoulish horror of munching innocent peoples’ brains is amusingly vivid, but having the people scream “I HAVE A WIFE AND KIDS” as you murder them swings the proceedings sharply into unpleasantness. And not the funny kind of out-there gonzo unpleasantness you’d see in the likes of The House of the Dead: Overkill or No More Heroes; just ugly, mean-spirited nastiness. It’s the kind of decision that seems to inform the rest of the “comedy”. It’s not prudishness – it simply isn’t funny enough.

And that’s all it is, really. You’re wrestling with the mechanics throughout, munching brains in unskippable cod animations until you’re able to use one of the four powers (two of which are basically useless), then trying to figure out where to go next until the handy waypoint appears and directly shows you. There are cutscenes, but they’re not funny. The visuals look bland and empty. It has character for sure, but it’s irritating. It’s a game that, in 2021, has really got nothing going for it besides any nostalgia you may already have. It’s a well-ported, smooth version of a game that wasn’t good when it originally released and has aged like milk. There’s a two-player mode, too, if you want to share the pain.

Conclusion

If you already have a soft spot for Stubbs the Zombie, you’re going to have a perfectly fine experience here. But we wonder why on earth anyone would hold a candle for a game this obviously flawed. There’s some ambition here for sure, but something is always working against it. You can’t lose yourself in its mindlessness because your character is too weak. You can’t really formulate a decent strategy using your powers because you can only gain access to them through the rote melee combat. The jokes didn’t make us laugh. The premise is fun but the gameplay simply doesn’t do it justice. We’ll say it again – in order to make Stubbs the Zombie fun at all, you have to possess one of the firearm-wielding humans, thus transforming it from a load of baffling nothing to a pretty dull shooter. Please, no more resurrections for Stubbs. Let the man rest.

High blood pressure: Certain yoghurt and milk products could reduce high blood pressure

The chemicals in fermented milk, and other products made from it such as live yoghurt, helped manage healthy gut bacteria that breaks down food. And there is growing evidence to suggest gut bacteria, or microbiota, might have an effect on the development of high blood pressure, according to researchers. 
Eating fermented milk products such as yoghurt, kefir, cultured buttermilk and filmjölk (Scandinavian sour milk) can also help. 

Study author Dr Belinda Vallejo-Córdoba, of the Center for Food Research and Development in Sonora, Mexico, said: “Several studies have indicated that fermented milks may positively affect gut microbiota or provide antihypertensive effects.

“However, few studies have shown a link between the antihypertensive effect of fermented milks and induced microbial balance.

“Remarkably, the antihypertensive effect has been attributed mainly to ACEI peptides, and few studies have attributed this effect to gut modulation.”

According to researchers there is growing evidence to suggest that gut bacteria, or microbiota, might have an effect on the development of high blood pressure. 

Tailor-made milk could be designed to target people with hypertension. 

The study also looked at ways of managing the gut through these specially designed milks.

The idea is these milks would be stocked in supermarkets alongside the growing number of alternative health products. 

READ MORE Coconut oil benefits: 15 ways coconut oil could improve your health

Healthy bacteria and organic proteins found in certain fermented milks could control microbiota and therefore help to reduce high blood pressure.

High blood pressure is a risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease and is one of the leading causes of death globally.

Dr Vallejo-Córdoba said: “New evidence suggests that antihypertensive fermented milks, including probiotics, bioactive peptides, and exopolysaccharides obtained from milk fermented with specific lactic acid bacteria, may modulate gut microbiota.

“Therefore, there is potential for the development of tailor-made fermented milks with gut microbiota modulation and blood pressure-lowering effects.”

The findings were published in the Journal of Dairy Science and the scientists say more research is to help understand the antihypertensive effects of fermented milks.

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