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The Science of Breastmilk and Formula

Parenting is full of obstacles that can be hard to navigate—even without a toddler yelling at your face. There’s no instruction manual, which means discerning fact from fiction and reasonable from ridiculous can be maddening. That’s where Parentalogic comes in, a digital series brought to you by NOVA and PBS Digital Studios. Subscribe to the YouTube channel to receive alerts when new episodes launch.

Premiered: Runtime: 5:35Topic: Body + BrainBody & BrainNova
Premiered on PBS

In this episode of Parentalogic, hosts Alok Patel and Bethany Van Delft dive into the wonderful and mysterious world of the human body’s best-catered food: Breastmilk. It’s got fats, proteins, carbohydrates, water- and fat-soluble vitamins, and antibodies to help your baby fight off infections. It helps promote good gut bacteria growth and prevent bad bacteria growth, and it tastes delicious (to your baby, at least). And almost magically, every mom’s body produces a different recipe of breastmilk specially for every baby.

The benefits of breastmilk may even be two-way: Countless studies have investigated the benefits that breastfeeding might confer to moms, such as potentially decreasing the risk of certain cancers and type 2 diabetes. But for moms who choose not or aren’t able to breastfeed, a question lingers. How does a bottle of formula stack up to the original?

To answer this, Bethany and Alok explore the nutrition of formula milk. They explain how formula milk is designed to help your baby grow—just in a slightly different way than breastmilk—and touch on the guilty feelings that some moms might feel using formula. If you’re a new parent or guardian who’s gotten deluged with headlines about the so-called right and wrong ways to feed your children, worry no longer: The bottom line, Bethany and Alok say, is that both breastmilk and formula are great options. What matters most is you’re comfortable and your child is getting fed.

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National Corporate funding for NOVA is provided by Draper. Major funding for NOVA is provided by the David H. Koch Fund for Science, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS viewers. Additional funding is provided by the NOVA Science Trust.

Major funding for Parentalogic is provided by the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation and PBS.