The breast is much more than a passive reservoir of milk. The mammary glands in the breast extract water, amino acids, fats, vitamins, minerals, and other substances from the maternal blood. They package these substrates, synthesize many new nutrients, and secrete a unique fluid specifically tailored to the needs of the infant. The glands balance milk production with infant demand, so that the volume of milk produced during lactation is determined by infant need. Milk production in the first 6 months averages about 750 ml/day,1 but breastfeeding mothers have the potential to produce far more milk. Mothers who breastfeed twins can produce over 2000 ml/day.
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For many years, scientists have been playing out the ingredients that make breast milk the perfect food for babies. They've discovered to day over 200 close compounds to fight infection, help the immune system mature, aid in digestion, and support brain growth - nature made properties that science simply cannot copy. The important long term benefits of breast feeding include reduced risk of asthma, allergies, obesity, and some forms of childhood cancer. The more that scientists continue to learn, the better breast milk looks.