In a significant piece of research that will help ailing babies,scientists have discovered the presence of stem cells in human breast milk. Gynaecologist and infertility specialist Dr Satish Patki from Kolhapur and retired senior scientist from the National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS) Dr Ramesh Bhonde have for the first time documented the presence of stem cells in human milk.
A pilot study has already been undertaken where the stem cells will be given orally to sick babies,Patki said.
Speaking at a conference in Pune on Monday,Patki said the research was accepted for publication in the 23 rd volume of Human Cell,a peer review journal. The duo had earlier documented the presence of stem cells in uterus and fallopian tube. Australian researcher Dr Mark Cregan in 2008 had demonstrated the presence of putative stem like cells in human milk but the research did not document the pleuropotent differentiation potential of the cells.
The duo said breast feeding is an example of allogenic stem cell therapy where the child receives mesenchymal stem cells from the mother as a natural gift. Bhonde said the mesenchymal stem cells isolated from human milk can be effective in the treatment of certain neonatal diseases like neonatal sepsis,respiratory diseases and others,which form important causes of infant mortality world across. During such severe diseases,babies are not given oral feeds and even the overall intake of such sick babies is less. In such situations,stem cells preparations can be given orally,which can definitely help in rapid recovery.
Breast milk produced especially during first five days after child birth ( technically called as colostrum) contains lot of cells,which none of the formula milk has. Hence,in their research,Patki and Bhonde made an attempt to analyse in details various types of cells in the breast milk. Their study revealed the presence of stem cells that were cultured in a highly specialised laboratory at Patki Hospital,Kolhapur.
According to Patki,stem cell number in the colostrums contains about 50,000 cells per ml while mature milk contains hardly 50-100 cells per ml. Hence,in the first five days the baby gets 5 million stem cells per kg body weight per day.