Past Regional Webinars



Dr. Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, Professor of Public Health, Director of the Office of Public Health Practice, and Director of the Global Health Concentration at the Yale School of Public Health

Lactancia materna y COVID-19 en América Latina: Lecciones aprendidas y como avanzar (Hosted in Spanish)
Basado en la evidencia acumulada hasta ahora, la Organización Mundial de la Salud sigue indicando que mujeres con COVID-19 pueden amamantar de forma segura a sus bebés y que es muy deseable que lo hagan. Sin embargo, un estudio de monitoreo en México que es nacionalmente representativo muestra que la mayoría de las personas en hogares con niños pequeños piensan que las mujeres con COVID-19 no deben amamantar ya que pueden transmitir el virus SARS-CoV-2 a sus hijos. Esta presentación va a discutir las implicaciones de esto hallazgos para mejorar la diseminación basada en evidencia, utilizando principios de teoría y análisis de redes sociales, sobre la lactancia materna en tiempos de COVID-19 en el contexto de América Latina. También va a presentar hallazgos sobre como programas de consejería de lactancia materna fueron adaptados de forma remota durante la pandemia utilizando métodos de la ciencia de implementación.

Click here for the webinar flyer.
1:00pm EST on February 3, 2021


Dr. Steven Townsend,
Vanderbilt University

Human Milk Oligosaccharides as Therapeutics
Carbohydrates are the most abundant organic molecules on earth and are critical to a myriad of biological processes. The Vanderbilt Laboratory for Glycoscience uses a blend of synthetic organic chemistry and microbiology to elucidate the biological roles of carbohydrates, with a foci on advances in chemical synthesis and learning new mechanistic concepts. Our discussion will focus on the application of the host defense properties of human milk.

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18:00 CET on February 2, 2021

Dr. Rebecca Powell
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Evidence of a strong and specific antibody response against SARS-CoV-2 in human milk
The SARS-CoV-2 immune response in human milk has not yet been examined, though protecting infants and young children from COVID-19 is critical for limiting community transmission, and preventing serious illness and death. Just as NYC was shutting down in early April 2020 during its COVID-19 peak, the human milk immunology lab headed by Dr. Rebecca Powell at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai began to rapidly enroll local participants into a novel study of the SARS-CoV-2 immune response in human milk. This presentation will describe this study and its early results, which so far indicate a robust antibody response in milk, signifying that continued research is highly warranted to understand if and how breastfed infants are protected by this response, and determine the potential for exploiting extracted milk antibody for therapeutic use.
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18:00 CET on January 5, 2021


Human Milk in the Time of COVID-19
Presented by Prof. Sertac Arslanoglu on Tuesday, Dec 1, 2020.
ollowing the first reported case in December 2019, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has infected over 57.8 million people resulting in more than 1.3 million deaths worldwide. COVID-19 in children seems to be milder with respect to adults, yet infants younger than 1 year may present a more severe disease requiring advanced care. Although breast milk is an immune-potent nutrient providing protection against infections thanks to its numerous bioactive components, there are questions regarding its role in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2.  
This talk, based on the accumulated evidence until now, gives an update on the potential of human milk in SARS-CoV-2 transmission, as well as its promising potential in the protection and treatment of the disease. Furthermore, it addresses the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on breastfeeding and milk banking practices, reviews the current recommendations, and gaps in the scientific evidence, discussing finally the priorities for research in the field. 

Mother's own milk vs. donor milk for preterm infants
Presented by Dr. Hans van Goudoever on Tuesday, Nov 17, 2020.
When mother’s own milk is not available, donor human milk is a good alternative. However, processing the milk, including the multiple freeze and thaw processes and pasteurization does affect the quality of milk. Many differences in processing exists between milk banks, across countries, also in processes that clearly affect the quality. This presentation will give an update on the latest evidence on the efficacy of donor milk, compared to own mother’s milk, including the newest data on SARS-CoV-2 and human donor milk.

Human milk lipids - what do we know?
Presented by Dr. Johann Demmelmair on Tuesday, Nov 3, 2020.
Fat occurs in human milk as milk fat globules and provides about 50% of human milk energy. Although more than 200 fatty acids have been identified in human milk, there are only a limited number of fatty acids with quantitative relevance, but these form a huge number of different lipids. Non polar triglycerides, which contribute more than 98% -wt/wt to the fat, form the core of the milk fat globules. Specific for milk fat is a relatively high content of short and medium chain fatty acids with up to 14 carbon atoms and a strong enrichment of palmitic acid at the sn-2 position. Both factors enhance fat digestibility. Of importance is the content of the essential fatty acids and their long chain polyunsaturated derivatives. They are mainly provided by triglycerides, although their relative percentage may be higher in certain more polar milk lipid fractions. The polar lipids in milk include glycerophospholipids, sphingolipids, and cholesterol. Quantitatively they are all minor components, but their importance for the development of the infant digestive tract, immune system and cognition has started to be recognized in recent years.

Functions of the milk fat globule membrane in human milk 
Presented by Prof Magnus Domellöf, MD, PhD on Tues, Sept 15, 2020.
Breastfeeding is associated with many health benefits in the infant, including improved cognitive development and a reduced risk of infections. Human milk is a complex emulsion of fat globules surrounded by a triple phospholipid membrane, with membrane-bound complex lipids and proteins. Components of this highly complex membrane, the ”milk fat globule membrane” (MFGM) include choline, sphingomyelin, gangliosides, cholesterol, sialic acid, inositol and cerebrosides, which are all involved in brain development. Further, the MFGM contains mucins, butyrophilin, lactadherin, CD14, TLR1, TLR3 and xanthine oxidase, which are all important for immune function. Studies in animals support these associations and recent trials in infants suggest that MFGM may indeed improve neurodevelopment and reduce the risk of infections also in humans. These studies need to be reproduced and further studies are needed to establish the exact mechanisms behind these effects, as well as possible clinical applications.

Human Milk Oligosaccharides: Current Research Activities and Challenges
Presented by Prof. Dr. Clemens Kunz on Tues, August 4, 2020.
In recent years, the interest in human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) is exploding primarily due to the breakthrough in manufacturing HMOs on a large scale which can be used for commercial purposes. Hence, we are at the beginning of a new era in infant nutrition, supplementing infant formula with oligosaccharides occurring naturally in human milk. Although currently only a few HMO are available, the number is steadily increasing. To differentiate between HMOs naturally occurring in human milk and identical but commercially produced components a differing denomination for the latter should be given. The interest of the biotech and dairy industry as well as infant formula companies is enormous which raises many questions with regard to the scientific evidence supporting HMO supplementation, the selection and doses of specific components and the outcomes that should be looked at. As commercially produced HMOs may not be available to or not be used by all companies, there are great efforts to find new strategies to bring the composition of infant formula closer to that of human milk in terms of its oligosaccharide composition. Recently, HMOs have often been described as “galactosylated oligosaccharides“, a definition which is not appropriate as it disregards more important characteristics of HMOs not common to other “galactosylated oligosaccharides“ named as GOS or GOS/FOS. However, it alleviates strategies to add those non-human milk oligosaccharides to infant formula. It seems that the topic “HMO“ is often not only confusing the scientific community but, and even more importantly, commercial strategies may mislead parents looking for an alternative for their child if not breastfed. 

The Human Milk Microbiome
Presented by Dr. Maria Carmen Collado on Tues, July 7, 2020. 
Current evidence highlights the key role of early microbial colonization in promoting later health. Perturbations in this colonization process caused by factors such as C-section delivery, antibiotics, prematurity, etc., have been associated to a higher risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) later in life as well as obesity and allergic disease. Human microbial colonization starts at birth when the neonate is exposed to maternal microbiota and continues during lactation. Beyond nutritional aspects, human milk contains bioactive compounds as microorganisms, oligosaccharides and other substances which are involved in host-microbe interactions. Different studies shown that human milk composition is shaped by genetic factors, mode of delivery, maternal nutrition, and also, would differ within feeds, day time, lactation stage and also, between mothers and populations. This lecture is aimed to provide a global overview on milk microbiota composition and activity, factors shaping its composition and their potential biological relevance.

Complementary feeding and commercial complementary food
Presented by Melissa Theurich, BSc , MPH, IBCLC on Tues, June 2, 2020.
Commercial complementary foods are some of the first foods fed to infants in Europe. They make up a substantial proportion of diets of European infants and young children over the first two years of life. This webinar will review European and international recommendations for complementary feeding. It will include results from the European Childhood Obesity Project (CHOP) on the use of the commercial baby foods in 5 European countries as well as results of a national survey of commercial cereals in Germany. Cereals from Germany were found to be poor sources of micronutrients, to be high in sugar, to contain added sugars and labels rarely recommended human milk for reconstitution. Improvements of European commercial baby foods are needed.

COVID-19 and Breastfeeding
Presented by Diane Lynn Spatz, PhD, RN-BC, FAAN on Tues, May 5, 2020. 
This presentation will review the various international recommendations and limited research studies related to human milk and breastfeeding and COVID-19 and discuss the conflicting recommendations. Despite conflicting recommendations regarding direct breastfeeding and skin to skin contact, all recommendations support the use of human milk. I will present what interventions we can do to ensure that families are making informed feeding decisions and that we give evidence-based guidance to ensure that mothers effectively establish milk supply.

Eastern Mediterranean

South East Asia

Dr. Rukhsana Haider, Founder and Chairperson of the Training & Assistance for Health & Nutrition Foundation (TAHN) in Bangladesh, and Co-Chair, Steering Committee of the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA).

Supporting mothers to breastfeed exclusively in Bangladesh
Specific programs to inform and support employed women for breastfeeding are lacking in Bangladesh. Ready-made garment factory workers in particular, are reported to have poor infant feeding practices and undernourished children. In order to improve the infant feeding practices of factory workers and their unemployed neighbours, a peer counselling project was implemented from 2015-17 in Chattogram. Peer counsellors visited mothers regularly at home from pregnancy until children were 18 months old. A cross-sectional survey undertaken when the project ended, showed that breastfeeding practices of the counselled factory workers were significantly better than those of the non-counselled factory workers. Unemployed counselled mothers also had optimal breastfeeding practices. These results will be further shared during the webinar. Despite the challenges being faced during the Covid-19 pandemic, peer counsellors continue to provide home-based services to both unemployed and employed women in TAHN Foundations' programme areas.


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12:00 PM SGT/AWST on February 23, 2021 / 11:00 PM EST on February 22, 2021

Western Pacific

Professor Valerie Verhasselt
Chair in Human Lactology, School of Molecular Sciences at the University of Western Australia (UWA)

Antigen shedding in human milk: key for long term immune health?
In addition of being a source of nutrients for the developing newborn, human milk contains thousands of bioactive compounds, which influence infant health in the short-term as exemplified by its major benefits on infectious disease prevention. Many of the human milk compounds also have the required characteristics to instruct immune development and guide long-term health. Prebiotics, probiotics, varied antimicrobial molecules, all have the potential to shape the composition and function of the establishing gut microbiota, which is known to be a major determinant of proper immune function. Another and less explored way human milk can instruct long-term immunity, is through antigen shedding. Here, we will review the evidence that antigens from maternal environment and more specifically from allergen sources and pathogens, are found in human milk. We will gather the data that provide clues on how antigens in human milk may be especially suitable to elicit an immune response in early life and educate the infant immunity towards tolerance or defense as needed. We propose this understanding is fundamental to guide maternal interventions leading to child-tailored vaccination, harmonious microbiota commensalism and lifelong allergen tolerance.

Click here for the webinar flyer.
11:00 AWST on January 27, 2021