top of page

Our 'Human Milk, Tailor-Made for Tiny Humans' advert. Click on 'CC' (bottom right of the video) for more languages.


Human Milk

Breastfeeding is central to key elements of humanity; the lasting health of our species and of our planet. It is increasingly being positioned as both a public health and a climate justice issue


The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, continued alongside other food and drinks until at least the child’s second birthday.


But an estimated 823,000 infants die globally each year because they are not being breastfed and protected by the components in human milk, alongside 20,000 women who would survive breast cancer.

For women, low breastfeeding rates are also associated with an increase in breast and reproductive cancers, heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, and postnatal depression.

Women are passionate about breastfeeding with good reason. Mothers often want to breastfeed but are interrupted by various social and environmental elements. The responsibility must not rest on individual mothers. 

We believe that knowledge of the science of human milk and breastfeeding is key to families, friends, healthcare professionals and the general public fully understanding why breastfeeding matters so much and to supporting breastfeeding mothers unequivocally.

Mothers report to us that learning about their milk can deepen their confidence, their connection to themselves, to their baby, their body, their choice to breastfeed, and often to the people they rely on for support.

HMO_1_greys (2).jpg

The composition of human milk can help us to understand why:

HM infographic.jpeg

Recent News: Dutch researchers find Covid-19 antibodies in human milk

‘We think when drinking the milk, the antibodies attach themselves to the surface of our mucous membranes,’ Hans van Goudoever, head of the Emma children’s hospital at the UMC, said. ‘Then they attack the virus particles before they force their way into the body.’ The UMC has now started a campaign to find 1,000 women who are willing to donate 100ml of breast milk for the research project. ‘Women who may have had coronavirus without noticing it may also have made antibodies which can be found in milk,’


Human milk contains stem cells. These are cells that create and repair the body, and are being researched worldwide to cure conditions like Alzheimers and diabetes.

The composition of human milk changes throughout the day, the night, the months and the years, to meet your child's needs.

The biologically normal age for humans to breastfeed until is anywhere between around 2 and 7+ years old. This is only surprising in cultures that tend to interrupt breastfeeding early, often having lost the knowledge of what our biological norms are in favour of cultural norms.

A4 HMO.jpg

“There is a widespread misconception that breastmilk can be replaced with artificial products without detrimental consequences and that the benefits of breastfeeding only relate to poor countries. Nothing could be further from the truth. The importance of tackling this global issue is greater now than ever before.”

Professor César Victora, Lancet Author, 2016

You can download all our educational materials free of charge on our Download Resources page.

Scroll down to see the research references.


Help Power the Education Movement

You can download all our education materials, including the advert,  infographic, and more on our Download Resources page.


This is free of charge because we know that breastfeeding support is often under/un-funded, and we want everyone to have equitable access to our materials.

If you can though, there are various ways to help us to help more people, detailed on our Donate Page:

  • Make a donation, whatever the amount.

  • Partner your retail or fashion business with us.

  • Purchase our gorgeous clothing that is easy to breastfeed in, and accessories on our shop

Imagine what we could do together!

Our Human Milk infographic (top of page) represents the known components of human milk. Many of the components named divide into hundreds more. It was designed by Hilda Allen, whilst feeding her then 1 year old (literally), and is used across the world for training and education. You can download it in several formats on our 'Download Resources' page, and purchase posters on our shop.

The science on the infographic and on our other resources was collated in collaboration with Dr Natalie Shenker at  The Human Milk Foundation, Dr Lars Bode, Dr Meghan Azad, Dr Olivia Bibollet-Bahena, and Laurel Wilson BSc IBCLC.  One third of the profits from our infographic posters go to The Human Milk Foundation.


Here you'll find references and research supporting the information in the advert.


“Nature has been researching your milk for hundreds of millions of years”

  • Breastfeeding has ancient origins (BBC website).

  • Capuco AV, Akers RM. The origin and evolution of lactation. J Biol. 2009; 8(4): 37.

  • Oftedal OT. The mammary gland and its origin during synapsid evolution. J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2002; 7(3): 225–52.

  • Oftedal OT. The origin of lactation as a water source for parchment-shelled eggs. J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2002; 7(3): 253-66.

  • Oftedal OT, Dhouially D. Evo-Devo of the Mammary Gland. Journal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia. 2013; 18: 105-120.

  • Capuco AV, Akers RM. The origin and evolution of lactation. Journal of Biology. 2009; 8(4): 37.

  • Goldman AS. Evolution of the mammary gland defense system and the ontogeny of the immune system. J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2002; 7: 277–289.


“Your milk contains ingredients that kill cancerous cells”

  • Gustafsson L, Hallgren O, Mossberg AK, et al. HAMLET kills tumour cells by apoptosis: structure, cellular mechanisms, and therapy. J Nutr. 2005; 135: 1299-1303.

  • Håkansson A, Zhivotovsky B, Orrenius S, Sabharwal H, Svanborg C. Apoptosis induced by a human milk protein. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995; 92(17): 8064-8.

  • Hallgren O, Aits S, Brest P, Gustafsson L, Mossberg AK, Wullt B, Svanborg C. Apoptosis and tumor cell death in response to HAMLET (human alpha-lactalbumin made lethal to tumor cells). Adv Exp Med Biol. 2008; 606: 217-40.

  • Hakansson AP, Roche-Hakansson H, Mossberg AK, Svanborg C. Apoptosis-like death in bacteria induced by HAMLET, a human milk lipid-protein complex. PLoS One. 2011; 6(3): e17717.

  • Kataev A, Zherelova O, Grishchenko V. A Characeae Cells Plasma Membrane as a Model for Selection of Bioactive Compounds and Drugs: Interaction of HAMLET-Like Complexes with Ion Channels of Chara corallina Cells Plasmalemma. J Membr Biol. 2016; 249(6): 801-811.

  • Jiang R, Du X, Lönnerdal B. Comparison of bioactivities of talactoferrin and lactoferrins from human and bovine milk. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2014; 59(5): 642-52.

  • Hill DR, Newburg DS. Clinical applications of bioactive milk components. Nutr Rev. 2015; 73(7): 463-76.

  • Vogel HJ. Lactoferrin, a bird's eye view. Biochem Cell Biol. 2012; 90(3): 233-44.


“Your milk contains stem cells. These are cells that create and repair the body, and are being researched worldwide to cure conditions like Alzheimers and diabetes.”

  • Cregan MD, Fan Y, Appelbee A, et al. Identification of nestin-positive putative mammary stem cells in human breastmilk. Cell Tissue Res. 2007; 329: 129-136.

  • Hassiotou F, Beltran A, Chewynd E, et al. Breastmilk is a novel source of stem cells with multilineage differentiation potential. Stem Cells. 2012; 30(10): 2164-74.

  • Briere CE, McGrath JM, Jensen T, Matson A, Finck C. Breast Milk Stem Cells: Current Science and Implications for Preterm Infants. Adv Neonatal Care. 2016; 16(6): 410-419.

  • Twigger AJ, Hepworth AR, Lai CT, Chetwynd E, Stuebe AM, Blancafort P, Hartmann PE, Geddes DT, Kakulas F. Gene expression in breastmilk cells is associated with maternal and infant characteristics. Sci Rep. 2015; 5: 12933.

  • Choi SS, Lee SR, Lee HJ. Neurorestorative Role of Stem Cells in Alzheimer's Disease: Astrocyte Involvement. Curr Alzheimer Res. 2016; 13(4): 419-27.

  • Lilly MA, Davis MF, Fabie JE, Terhune EB, Gallicano GI. Current stem cell based therapies in diabetes. Am J Stem Cells. 2016; 5(3): 87-98.

  • Cheng SK, Park EY, Pehar A, Rooney AC, Gallicano GI. Current progress of human trials using stem cell therapy as a treatment for diabetes mellitus. Am J Stem Cells. 2016; 5(3): 74-86.


“Your body identifies bacteria and viruses found in your baby's body and environment. You then produce antibodies specifically tailored for those infections, and deliver them to your baby through your milk. The more milk she drinks, the more antibodies she receives.”

  • Goldman AS, Garza C, Nichols BL, Goldblum RM. Immunological factors in human milk during the first year of lactation. J Pediatr. 1982; 100; 563-567.

  • Pickering LK, Kohl S. Human milk humoral immunity and infant defense mechanisms. In: Howell RR, Morriss FH, Pickering LK, eds. Human milk in infant nutrition and health. Springfield, IL: Thomas; 1986: 123-140.

  • Litwin SD, Zehr BD, Insel RA. Selective concentration of IgD class-specific antibodies in human milk. Clin Exp Immunol. 1990; 80: 262-267.

  • Blais DR, Harrold J, Altosaar I. Killing the messenger in the nick of time: persistence of breastmilk sCD14 in the neonatal gastrointestinal tract. Pediatr Res. 2006; 59: 371-376.

  • Andreas NJ, Kampmann B, Mehring Le-Doare K. Human breast milk: A review on its composition and bioactivity. Early Hum Dev. 2015; 91(11): 629-35.

  • Bode L. The functional biology of human milk oligosaccharides. Early Hum Dev. 2015; 91(11): 619-22.

  • Hassiotou F, Geddes DT. Immune cell-mediated protection of the mammary gland and the infant during breastfeeding. Adv Nutr. 2015; 6(3): 267-75.

  • Turfkruyer M, Verhasselt V. Breast milk and its impact on maturation of the neonatal immune system. Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2015; 28(3): 199-206.

  • Bourlieu C, Michalski MC. Structure-function relationship of the milk fat globule. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2015; 18(2): 118-27.

  • Rogier EW, Frantz AL, Bruno ME, Wedlund L, Cohen DA, Stromberg AJ, Kaetzel CS. Lessons from mother: Long-term impact of antibodies in breast milk on the gut microbiota and intestinal immune system of breastfed offspring. Gut Microbes. 2014; 5(5): 663-8.


“Your milk appears to switch on a gene in your baby’s body, which produces a hormone called Leptin. This hormone tells your baby when his tummy is full, protecting him against over eating.”

  • Fields DA, Demerath EW. Relationship of insulin, glucose, leptin, IL-6 and TNF-α in human breast milk with infant growth and body composition. Pediatr Obes. 2012; 7(4): 304-12.

  • Savino F, Sardo A, Rossi L, Benetti S, Savino A, Silvestro L. Mother and infant body mass index, breast milk leptin and their serum leptin values. Nutrients 2016; 8: 383.

  • Miralles O, Sanchez J, Palou A, Pico C. A physiological role of breast milk leptin in body weight control in developing infants. Obesity 2006; 14: 1371–1377.

  • Cannon A, Kakulas F, Hepworth A, Lai C, Hartmann P, Geddes D. The effects of leptin on breastfeeding behaviour. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015; 12: 12340–12355.


“Your milk contains Oxytocin, a hormone that induces relaxation, and feelings of well-being in your child and in you.”

  • Unvas-Moberg K. Oxytocin linked antistress effects: The relaxation and growth effect. Acta Physiol Scand Supp. 1997; 640: 38-42.

  • Groer M, Davis MW. Postpartum stress: current concepts and the possible protective role of breastfeeding. JOGN Nursing. 2002; 31: 411-417.

  • Winberg J. Mother and newborn baby: mutual regulation of physiology and behaviour - a selective review. Dev Phychobiol. 2005; 47(3): 217-229.

  • Strathearn L. Maternal neglect: oxytocin, dopamine and the neurobiology of attachment. J Neuroendocrinol. 2011; 23(1): 1054-1065.

  • Vargas-Martínez F, Schanler RJ, Abrams SA, Hawthorne KM, Landers S, Guzman-Bárcenas J, Muñoz O, Henriksen T, Petersson M, Uvnäs-Moberg K, Jiménez-Estrada I. Oxytocin, a main breastfeeding hormone, prevents hypertension acquired in utero: A therapeutics preview. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2017; 1861(1 Pt A): 3071-3084.

  • Jonas W, Woodside B. Physiological mechanisms, behavioral and psychological factors influencing the transfer of milk from mothers to their young. Horm Behav. 2016; 77: 167-81.

bottom of page