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Facts and Myth of Most Common Alternative Uses of Breast Milk

Updated: Mar 24, 2022

We all know that breast milk is often refer as “liquid gold” but do you know why? It’s not because the color of the milk looks like gold but it is the price of breast milk cost more (400x more) than crude oil per ounce in weight.  Hence the liquid gold term. Crazy isn’t it. Not only breast milk is the superb choice to feed our precious little ones but it has many benefits for both baby and mother as we already know.

Though, there’s always the common advice from breastfeeding and mom’s support group suggesting other uses of breast milk to cure infant common illness (ear infection, pink eye, blocked tear ducts etc). So, let’s examine what actually works based on research studies.

Myth: Breast feeding / Breast Milk can prevent or cure ear infection

Facts: Breast feeding will reduces the risk of getting ear infection. Not completely prevented it.  On the other hand, dropping a few breast milk into the ear of the baby during ear infection doesn’t support by the research. Most ear infection (otitis media) is a middle ear infection, which is behind the ear drums. So, the breast milk doesn’t reach the inflamed area behind the ear drum to be beneficial to treat it. However, if the infection is an outer ear infection (swimmer’s ear), then breast milk will work. Remember one important fact is that most ear infection will clear on its own within 48-72 hours without antibiotic treatment. If your child has recurrent/frequent ear infection, it is best to seek medical advice.

Myth: Breast milk is great for atopic eczema/ diaper rash

Facts: Truth ! Yes, breast milk has been proven in a randomized clinical trial (Kasrae et al 2015 and Farahani et al 2013) treat atopic eczema and diaper rash respectively. Breast milk works just as effective as the 1% hydrocortisone cream. So, you can definitely try dabbing a few drops of breast milk to the affected area.  One side note is that this will only works on infant with mild to moderate atopic eczema (or dermatitis) and bacteria diaper rash. If the diaper rash are caused by yeast, breast milk will make it worse due to the milk sugar content.

Myth: Breast milk can be use to treat conjunctivitis (pink eye)

Facts: Maybe. Mixed review noted in two separate research done in 2012 (studies in British) and 2014 (studies in Iran with neonatal infant). Breastmilk was noted to be effective in inhibiting growth on gonorrhea, which is the most common bacteria that causes pink eye. However, when comparing to antibiotic ointment, breastmilk comes in second. So, if you live in a rural area without quick access to medical care, then breast milk will not be a bad idea and will not hurt your infant.

Myth: Breast milk can help clear block tear ducts

Facts: False claims. There’s a studies published in the Journal of Tropical Pediatrics in 2007 indicates that most blocked tear ducts cleared on its own with or without treatment. However, if you do choose to use breast milk vs antibiotic, it is probably safe as well. Just make sure to clean the gunk from the infant eyes and massage the corner of the eye with warm compress.

Myth: Breast milk can help with infant acne and adults too

Facts: Likely ! Studies have shown that breast milk contains lauric acid, which is a component to help combating acne. Put a few drops of fresh breast milk on the baby’s acne area, leave it air dry for about 10 minutes, then clean the face with some water. As breast milk contains lactose (milk sugar), which may cause the face becoming sticky and causing other irritation to occurs.

Myth: Breast milk is great for sore nipple

Facts: Although there’s no research to back this up but it has been the gold standard from breastfeeding organization (Le Leche) across the world to recommend hand express a few drops of breast milk and apply around the areola area to lubricate to prevent drying and cracking of the nipple.

Well, as you can see breast milk really is a powerful resource. Even the latest research has shown positive association between breast milk properties with cancer treatment and C-difficile. More clinical trials are underway !

Hope you all enjoyed this findings as much as I did. As a mom, I’ve tried it all and some works better than the other. Just remember, even though breast milk is great for many uses, it still harbor quite a lot of bacteria in them, most of them are beneficial to the gut of babies. Make sure to practice good hygiene when hand expressing and storage to reduce as much contamination as possible.

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