Milk Formula: A Substitute for Breast Milk- Part 2

In the previous article, I discussed how we came about to make safe and nutritious, yet sanitary milk formula for the baby. This time, I would like you to join me in examining the various components of milk formula.

Various innovations to simulate mother's milk

The components of mother's milk differ from milk formula. Not only does cow milk have higher protein content, but it is also abundant in sodium, potassium, phosphorous. Thus, if we allow babies to drink the cow milk straight, the blood will thicken. When this happens, it is necessary for these elements to be excreted through urine, which requires a large volume of water intake. However, since the baby's kidneys are not developed fully yet, it does not have the ability to effectively facilitate this process, causing the baby to become dehydrated (note 1). In adults, the same condition occurs when we eat salty foods and feel thirsty. The difference is that when babies feel thirsty, they cannot complain of their discomfort or thirst to their parents. When dehydration becomes severe, the blood thickens considerably and clots in the brain or blood vessels. Thus, the same condition as an adult apoplexy could occur in the baby.

Thereupon, in the process of deriving milk formula, developments were made to simulate as closely as possible, the contents of the mother's milk by adjusting the levels of protein, sodium and potassium. Also, they found that casein (note 2), a component of cow milk, was bad for digestion and compensating for the differing constitution of amino acids from mother's milk, lacto-albumin (note 3) was replaced for casein. In addition, the constitution of the fatty acids differs remarkably between the mother's milk from cow milk, the fat in milk formula was replaced by a vegetable fat to increase the amount of unsaturated fatty acids (note 4), especially the linoleic acid (note 5). Mother's milk contains a higher sugar contain than that of cow milk, which is lactose. For that reason, to derive milk formula from cow milk, ß-lactose has been added. There was a time when sucrose had been added as well, but since studies showed that this component caused tooth decay, it has been limited to lactose. The calcium and phosphorous content closely resemble mother's milk. There is a large phosphorous content in cow milk and when drank straight, the baby's bloodstream becomes overloaded with it, outweighing the calcium content causing an imbalance, leading to tetany (note 6). Vitamins and iron are also included for prevention of anemia.

In this way, milk formula became the closest thing to mother's milk. It became the one artificial product that was ever so close to the nutritious value of mother's milk for the baby. However, the protein in the cow is still different from that of humans. In addition, there are still some improvements to be made on the proportion of sodium and potassium that is appropriate for the baby's yet undeveloped kidney.

We cannot necessarily say in a mouthful that natural products are always the best. Cow milk is a wonderful and appropriate milk for the calf but for the human baby, we must give formula that has been artificially derived by pediatricians putting their heads together and researching the best combination of elements. However, as the baby is weaned and begins eating, s/he is able to drink any kind of milk as well as adults.

(Note 1) Dehydrated condition
Dehydration occurs when there is not enough body fluids in the body. There is the occurrence of dehydration when there is simply not enough water in the body, and also there is the dehydration that occurs in conjunction with vomiting and diarrhea that is caused by a low level of sodium.

(Note 2) Casein
A kind of the protein that is included to mother's milk. 80% of the proteins in cow milk are casein. It is important nutritionally because all the indispensable amino acids are included.

(Note 3) Lacto-albumin
The albumin that is an element of milk. A kind of protein.

(Note 4) Unsaturated fatty acid
The fatty acid that is capable of a double bond in a molecule. Although animals produce oleic acid, they don't produce the linoleic acid, linolenic acid, and arachidonic acid, it is called an indispensable fatty acid. When there is an overabundance of saturated fatty acid it facilitates in arteriosclerosis, it is necessary to have unsaturated fatty acids.

(Note 5) Linoleic acid
A kind of the unsaturated fatty acid that is included in vegetable oil. It is not synthesized in a/the living body.

(Note 6) Tetany
A disease manifesting symptoms mainly in which cramping or spasms occur in the voluntary muscles and the pharynx. Vitamin D deficiency, parathyroid disease, and absorption disturbance of the small intestine causing a decreased calcium state which sparks the onset of tetany. In addition, chronic vomiting may also decrease the amount of calcium in the bloodstream and bring on tetany.

Kobayashi, Noboru (1991). Bonyu ni kawarumono, miruku - 2 (written in Japanese). Tokyo: Child Research Net. Retrieved December 1, 2001, from the World Wide Web:
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