Study: human breast milk contains anti-microbial properties cow’s milk doesn’t

Vinnie Wong

Research from the National Jewish Health Center, Denver, and the University of Iowa revealed an anti-bacterial compound, glycerol monolaurate (GML) in human breastmilk. This compound promotes healthy bacteria to grow while fighting against harmful bacteria.

Special compound in human breastmilk discovered

Special compound in human breastmilk

Image source: iStock

Researchers discovered human breastmilk contains GML levels 200 times more than found in cow’s milk. In formula milk, GML is not present at all.

GML provided human breast milk anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.

After investigating and comparing human breast milk to cow’s milk and formula, GML was discovered to effectively prevent the growth of the S. aureus bacteria.

However, the researchers admitted not being able to find out why GML was so high in human breast milk compared to cow’s milk.

“Although we do not know why human milk contains so much GML, compared to bovine milk, this observation is supported by based differences in gastrointestinal tracts of humans and cows.”

While they were unable to ascertain this information, the researchers discovered that stopping this bacterium meant human breast milk reduces allergies such as asthma, food allergy, and eczema (atopic dermatitis).

“Positive effects of human milk appear to be due in part to the presence of GML combined with other known and unknown factors”

After experimenting with GML levels, they found that cow’s milk contains anti-microbial properties with 3,000mg of GML. 

Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Dr Patrick Schlievert, and Dr Donald Leung, Professor of Pediatrics at National Jewish Health, submitted a patent application to use GML as a supplementary additive in cow’s milk and formula milk.


This study gives insight into why breastmilk is so amazing!

Keep up with your breastfeeding, mummies – your little ones will greatly benefit from it!

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