The ingredient called pancreatic secretory trypsin inhibitor, or PSTI, is found at its highest levels in colostrum — the milk produced in the first few days after birth.
The lining of a newborn’s gut is particularly vulnerable to damage as it has never been exposed to food or drink. The new study highlights the importance of breastfeeding in the first few days after the birth.
The researchers found small amounts of PSTI in all the samples of breast milk they tested but it was seven times more concentrated in colostrum samples. The ingredient was not found in formula milk.
The researchers examined the effects of PSTI on human intestinal cells in the lab. When they inflicted damage to the cells they found that PSTI stimulated the cells to move across the damaged area forming a natural protective ‘plaster’. They also found that PSTI could prevent further damage by stopping the cells of the intestine from self-destructing. Additional research suggests that PSTI could reduce damage by 75 per cent.
PSTI is a molecule which is normally found in the pancreas where it protects the organ from being damaged by the digestive enzymes it produces. Research suggests that it plays a similar protective role in the gut. (Science Dailey, June 30, 2009)
If you are struggling with breastfeeding, contact Beaumont’s Parenting Program for resources.
Also, check out this valuable information about the first few weeks with your baby.
–Mary Anne Kenerson RN, Coordinator, Prenatal & Family Education at Beaumont