Breastfeeding may be vital to a child's development, claims a new study suggesting that it contains stem cells promoting the immune system and growth of both muscle and bone tissue. Take that, bottle-fed weaklings.
The claim comes from Dr Mark Cregan, medical director at Swiss healthcare company Medela, who admits that it's based on "very preliminary evidence." Not that that's stopping him from saying that the discovery demonstrates that breast milk helps a newborn child "fulfil its genetic destiny":
Breast milk is the only adult tissue where more than one type of stem cell has been discovered. That is very unique and implies a lot about the impressive bioactivity of breast milk and the consequential benefits to the breastfed infant... It's quite possible that immune cells in breast milk can survive digestion and end up in the infant's circulation. This has been shown to be occurring in animals, and so it would be unsurprising if this was also occurring in human infants.
If these benefits turn out to be true, then it might lead more mothers to breastfeed; according to the World Health Organization, only 3% of mothers worldwide exclusively breastfeed currently, leading to a generation who'll sadly be too weak to fight off the Terminators they'll have to deal with.
Stem cells could be the secret reason why breast is best [Independent.co.uk]