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Splash! Milk Science Update | International Milk Genomics Consortium

Keep up to date on the latest discoveries and news in milk science with our bi-monthly publication SPLASH!®

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Current Issue #118

Issue Date: January 2024

Molecular Mechanisms of Milk Production Reveal an Evolutionary Back-up Plan
By: Lauren Milligan Newmark, Ph.D.

If you have ever wondered what one teaspoon of baking soda does for an entire batch of cookies, omit this ingredient the next time you bake, and your flat cookies will clue you in. Biologists actually use the “omit one ingredient” approach when trying to understand the function of a gene or protein in an organism. Sometimes the best way to figure out what something does is to take it away and see what happens.

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Maternal Brain Circuit Activated by Pups’ Cries Boosts Oxytocin
By: Alla Katsnelson, Ph.D

A crying infant might pull on the heartstrings of any passerby, but those tears have a well-known physiological effect on the baby’s mother. By somehow increasing levels of the hormone oxytocin, the sound of a baby wailing compels a new mom to provide care for the baby and sometimes to release breast milk. 

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Drinking Milk Is Linked to Lower Fracture Risk in Women
By: Jyoti Madhusoodanan, Ph.D.

For many people, aging increases their risk of a fracture from a slip or fall from standing height or even more minor injuries. These injuries usually reveal the underlying condition of osteoporosis, characterized by low bone mineral density and a loss of the micro-architecture of bone tissue. Approximately 1.5 million new cases of fragility fractures are diagnosed annually in the U.S. alone [1]. Although older women are considered most at risk of these injuries, a recent analysis revealed that the risk of fragility fractures begins to increase when women are in their forties [2].

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Human Milk Sugars Help Reduce Infections That Cause Preterm Births
By: Sandeep Ravindran, Ph.D.

Preterm births are a major global problem, affecting approximately 11.1% of all pregnancies worldwide and nearly 10% of all pregnancies in the United States (1). Microbial infections are a major cause of preterm births, and are responsible for 40% of preterm births in the United States. Bacterial infections can lead to an inflammatory response that can then cause premature onset of labor. Streptococcus agalactiae or Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is one of the most common pathogens responsible for such infections.

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