Colostrum in InfantsColostrum is a form of milk produced by the mammary glands in late pregnancy and the few days after giving birth. Human and bovine colostrums are thick, sticky and yellow.
In humans, it has high concentrations of nutrients and antibodies, but it is small in quantity. Colostrum is high in carbohydrates, high in protein, high in antibodies, and low in fat (as human newborns may find fat difficult to digest).
Newborns have very small digestive systems, and colostrum delivers its nutrients in a very concentrated low-volume form.
It has a mild laxative effect, encouraging the passing of the baby's first stool, which is called meconium.
This clears excess bilirubin, a waste product of dead red blood cells which is produced in large quantities at birth due to blood volume reduction, from the infant's body and helps prevent jaundice. Colostrum contains large numbers of antibodies called "secretory immunoglobulin" (IgA) that help protect the mucous membranes in the throat, lungs, and intestines of the infant.
Leukocytes are also present in large numbers; these begin protecting the infant from harmful viruses and bacteria.
Ingesting colostrum establishes beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. Premature babies tend to fare better on human colostrum than commercial infant formulas.
Human milk contains special components, called growth modulators, that help the premature baby's digestive system adjust to oral feedings.
Research indicates that premature babies fed formula tend to vomit more and continue tube feeding longer than those fed human colostrum and breast milk.
Bovine colostrums are the "early" milk produced by cows during the first several days post-parturition. This "early" milk has a nutrient profile and immunological composition that differs substantially from "mature" milk. Included in the nutrient profile are higher amounts of immunoglobulins, growth factors, cytokines, and nucleosides than are found in milk. Bovine colostrums are also rich in oligosaccharides, antimicrobials, and immune-regulating factors. Available evidence suggests a beneficial effect of supplementation of bovine colostrums in improving body composition, aspects of athletic performance, diarrhea in persons with immune-deficiency syndromes, NSAID-induced gastrointestinal disturbances, and aspects of the acute phase response that occurs secondary to surgery. Specific hyperimmune bovine colostrums, produced to have high neutralizing titer activity against Cryptosporidia, H. pylori, measles, rotavirus, and Shigella sp., appear to have clinical utility in conditions associated with these infectious organisms
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