Colostrum is the first milk expressed from the mammary glands during late pregnancy and the few days after giving birth. It is the most potent natural immune booster ever identified in science that is rich in vital bioactive components for the infant’s immunity. Human colostrum is rich in proteins, antibodies and growth factors to enhance fetal immunity and resistance to infection. One of the proteins in human milk, secretory immunoglobulin, or IgA, help protect the mucous membranes in the throat, lungs and intestines of the infant. Breastfeeding is undeniably important to provide all the needed support for the infant’s immature immune system as they grow. 1,2,3,4
Maternal nutrition may affect milk production and lead to substantial variations in human milk quality. Among the macronutrients, protein requires more attention during pregnancy and lactation, as demand progressively increases to support maternal tissues and fetal growth, especially during the third trimester. An excessively low protein diet is associated with potentially negative effects in terms of an infant’s weight and length at birth. 5
A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry investigated the effect of chicken extract supplementation on plasma and colostrum protein compositions in lactating women. Fifteen healthy pregnant women were given chicken extract to be taken three times a day to provide 18g of protein from the 37th-week pregnancy to 3 days postpartum, while a control group of 15 women was restricted from a high protein supplement.
Results from this study showed that growth factor in colostrum was significantly increased in the chicken essence group compared with those in the control group. Plasma epidermal growth factor (EGF), for example, was significantly elevated by 236% during the 3-day postpartum compared with those during the 37th-week pregnancy in the chicken essence group. 6
In a separate study published in the Chinese Journal of Practical Gynecology and Obstetrics, 235 first-time mothers who underwent normal pregnancies and deliveries were made to consume either 2 bottles of essence of chicken, placebo or traditional herbal soup each day for three days after childbirth. The results indicated that essence of chicken helped to promote breast milk production significantly earlier than those who consumed the placebo or traditional herbal soup. It also increased the quantity of breast milk secreted by mothers who consumed essence of chicken, and this was evident in the comparison of milk production measured 4 days post-partum for all participants. The difference in quantity observed from mothers who had consumed essence of chicken was approximately twice the amount for those who had not consumed it. 7
Supplementation with chicken extract then should be considered for lactating women to help increase colostrum levels of important proteins necessary for the infant’s immunity and growth. It may also help to promote the production of breast milk and assist in increasing the quantity secreted as well.
1 Colostrum. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/
2 Palmeira P, Carneiro-Sampaio M. Immunology of breast milk. Revista da Associação Médica Brasileira. 2016;62(6):584-593. doi:10.1590/1806-9282.62.06.584
3 Hurley WL, & Theil PK. Perspectives on immunoglobulins in colostrum and milk. Nutrients, 2011; 3(4), 442-74.
4 Munblit D, Treneva M, Peroni DG, Colicino S, Chow LY, Dissanayeke S, Pampura A, Boner AL, Geddes DT, Boyle RJ, Warner JO. Immune Components in Human Milk Are Associated with Early Infant Immunological Health Outcomes: A Prospective Three-Country Analysis. Nutrients. 2017; 9(6):532. doi:10.3390/nu9060532
5 Marangoni F, Cetin I, Verduci E et al. Maternal Diet and Nutrient Requirements in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding. An Italian Consensus Document. Nutrients. 2016;8(10):629. doi:10.3390/nu8100629
6 Chao JC, Tseng HP, Chang CW, Chien YY, Au HK, Chen JR, Chen CF. Chicken extract affects colostrum protein compositions in lactating women. J Nutr Biochem. 2004 Jan;15(1):37-44.
7 Li XM et al. Effects of Essence of Chicken on Postnatal Lactation. Chin. J. Pract. Gynecol. Obstet. 1997;13:295-296.