Guiding Development of the Neonate: Lessons from Mammalia

Kevin R. Nicholas, Vengama Modepalli, Ashalyn P. Watt, Lyn A. Hinds, Amit Kumar, Christophe Lefevre, Julie A. Sharp

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


Significantly preterm and low-birthweight (LBW) babies have diminished lung and gut development, generally fail to thrive, have increased mortality and higher frequency of mature-onset disease. Mothers often cannot breastfeed, and babies receive either formula or pasteurized donor milk, which may further limit the baby's recovery. New approaches are required to manage the early stages of neonatal development. The tammar wallaby, an Australian marsupial, has a short gestation and a simple placenta, and gives birth to an altricial young equivalent to a final trimester human embryo. The neonate remains in the pouch and attached to the teat for 100 days postpartum. The mother slows growth of the young and progressively changes the composition of the milk to deliver signals for organ development, including the lung and gut. This closely resembles the relationship between the human fetus and delivery of placental and uterine bioactives. Datasets comprised of differentially expressed genes coding for secreted proteins in early lactation in the tammar mammary gland have been compared to databases produced from human placenta, amniotic fluid, colostrum and milk to identify human homologues for the putative signaling molecules for organ development. These data will be used to develop milk fortifiers for treatment of preterm and LBW babies in both the developed and the developing world.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHuman Milk
Subtitle of host publicationComposition, Clinical Benefits and Future Opportunities
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)978-3-318-06340-0, 978-3-318-06341-7
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameNestle Nutrition Institute Workshop Series
ISSN (Print)1664-2147

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