Amazing discoveries in the science of human milk and lactation to be discussed by top researchers at the 13th International Breastfeeding and Lactation Symposium

Baar, Switzerland/Paris, France – 19 February 2018. Nature has created only one food that perfectly matches the entire range of human biological needs: mother’s milk. At the 13th International Breastfeeding and Lactation Symposium in Paris, 22-23 March, the world’s foremost researchers will share new scientific evidence for the unique nutritional, medicinal, and developmental impact of mother’s milk on infants. These two days represent an international milestone each year, when scientific breakthroughs are unveiled and translated into advanced women’s and infant’s healthcare initiatives. This year’s new line of evidence should also provide reasons for society to mobilize and offer stronger support to mothers who wish to breastfeed.
Medela Symposium speaker German Storme Johnson

• Nine world-class researchers discuss ground-breaking evidence for the unique nutritional, medicinal, and developmental impact of mother’s milk on infants, and new findings in lactation science

• 450 doctors and clinicians from over 19 countries discuss the impact of this new scientific evidence on their national policies and clinical practices supporting mothers and infants

• Previous symposia have inspired improvements in women’s and infant’s healthcare in countries around the world

• New studies expected to show reductions in healthcare costs and broad economic benefits to society when breastfeeding is supported by policy makers

Mother’s milk is the keystone linking food and health

“[Mother’s milk is] the product of 200 million years of symbiotic co-evolution between a mammalian mother and her infant,” says Prof. Bruce German, Director of the Foods for Health Institute at the University of California, Davis. His seminal research highlights the amazing quality of mother’s milk as the quintessential model linking food and health.

In fact, the evolution of mother’s milk reflects the benefits of adaptation in general, as it continuously evolves specifically to support infants’ needs. Those infants grow to produce milk with new traits which will further promote the health, strength and survival of the next generation. Prof. German’s studies (1) of the human genome and human milk have reinforced that principle. His research shows the exclusive compatibility between the chemical makeup of human milk and the biological needs of infants, which makes human milk irreplaceable as the perfect food source for today’s infants.

Mother’s milk is a medical intervention in the first 1,000 days of life

Prof. Laurent Storme, Head of Neonatology at Lille University Hospital and Vice President of the French Society for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, will address the profound impact that mother’s milk provides during the “First 1,000 Days of Life” (2). During those first 1,000 days, (starting in pregnancy and continuing through the first two years of life), an infant’s body, brain, and immune system are programmed for a lifetime. It is a “critical window of vulnerability” and also of opportunity, when non-communicable diseases with lifelong impact can be prevented, and long-term health can be promoted.

Feeding mother’s milk has a broad positive impact on society

From disease prevention in infants to optimal lifelong development, mother’s milk ultimately has a powerful influence on the general well-being of society. Meta-studies of both full-term (3) and pre-term (4) infants have shown that raising a national population on mother’s milk reduces healthcare costs by millions and increases productivity and gross domestic product by tens of millions annually. Prof. Tricia Johnson will speak about mother’s milk as the “primary public health intervention”, as important to the health of infants, mothers, and the general public as vaccinations have proven to be.

"Society benefits in every way, even financially, when infants get the best possible nutrition and care, and mother’s milk is fundamental to that,” says Dr. Leon Mitoulas, Scientific Director of the symposium, “We bring together the international scientific and medical communities, in order to share a growing and extremely compelling body of scientific evidence for why mother’s milk is so important for infants, and to advocate for advanced healthcare and support for mothers. We also hope that this knowledge will spread so that family, friends, co-workers and policy makers will also make the extra effort to help, encourage and empower mothers who want to breastfeed.”

About Medela

Founded in 1961 and headquartered in Switzerland, Medela conducts basic research in partnership with leading scientists, medical professionals and universities, to develop world-leading breastfeeding products, education, and solutions. Find out more at


(1) 21st century toolkit for optimizing population health through precision nutrition. Aifric O'Sullivan, Bethany Henrick, Bonnie Dixon, Daniela Barile, Angela Zivkovic, Jennifer Smilowitz, Danielle Lemay, William Martin, J. Bruce German & Sara Elizabeth Schaefer. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition Vol. 0, Iss. 0, 2017

(2) DOHaD : consequences à long termede la pathologie périnatale. Retard de croissance intra-utérin et prématurité. Laurent Storme1, Dominique Luton2, Latifa Abdennebi-Najar3, Isabelle Le Huërou-Luron4

(3) Breastfeeding in the 21st century. Quigley, Maria A et al. The Lancet, Volume 387 , Issue 10033 , 2087 - 2088