Generation ship: 100% breastmilk solution

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Generation ship: 100% breastmilk solution

Postby caters on September 15th, 2017, 11:53 pm 

I was thinking about the possible issues with breastfeeding and how the aliens on the generation ship are anti formula. So I think I have come up with a solution that doesn't involve any formula whatsoever.

Here are the potential issues with breastfeeding:

  • Low milk supply
  • Overproduction
  • Medical issue with the mom
  • Baby too premature
  • Mom just won't breastfeed

Of course, if the baby is too premature for direct nursing, then either IV nutrition or an NG tube would be given and if the NG tube is given, the mom can connect a breast pump to the NG tube and if an IV is given, the mom can pump breastmilk and store it.

Low milk supply could be corrected with either a lactogenic treatment(increased lactation) or supplemental breastmilk from donors.

A woman with an overproduction issue would be a great breastmilk donor.

Now, I was thinking that if none of these 3 previous issues is the problem, then depending on whether it is medical or personal, the mom should be treated differently but the baby should be treated the same.

The baby would either be:

  • Fed by a mom that is already breastfeeding
  • Fed by a young woman who has induced lactation

Or in WCS, fed by an alien who is lactating.

For women with a medical issue, lactation should be stopped as soon as possible. For those with a personal issue, they should donate breastmilk.

But is my reasoning about breastfeeding issues and how to solve them logical for a generation ship where the aliens are very anti formula? Or is there a fault in my logic somewhere?
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Re: Generation ship: 100% breastmilk solution

Postby Braininvat on September 16th, 2017, 8:59 am 

YYYESSSS! A topic on which I have absolutely no expertise or skill set to offer insights! I will let the other resident boobs weigh in.
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Re: Generation ship: 100% breastmilk solution

Postby BioWizard on September 16th, 2017, 10:37 am 

To be honest caters, I'm not sure what the question is exactly (maybe there are hints in other threads tha I have missed).
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Re: Generation ship: 100% breastmilk solution

Postby caters on September 16th, 2017, 11:40 am 

The question is whether or not there is any faulty logic in my reasoning given that there is no formula on the generation ship and the aliens are very anti-formula. So basically the feeding options are down to:

Direct nursing(most babies could do this and most moms probably will do this)
Pumping Mom's breastmilk into NG tube(for premies without much of a swallowing reflex but are developed enough that pneumonia is not as concerning)
IV(for babies that have to go into surgery or that are born with a defect in their digestive system or that are born too soon in the pregnancy for an NG tube to be of any use)
Bottle feeding Mom's own pumped milk(Most commonly, once it is safe to feed the baby breastmilk after surgery for most babies or growth in the case of premies)
Bottle feeding donor milk(a solution to the low milk supply issue)

But whatever way the baby gets fed, it is not with formula.
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Re: Generation ship: 100% breastmilk solution

Postby BioWizard on September 16th, 2017, 12:06 pm 

Why are they "anti formula"?
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Re: Generation ship: 100% breastmilk solution

Postby Braininvat on September 16th, 2017, 12:50 pm 

They are West Coast aliens, sounds like.

Also, like the Vogons in Doug Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide series, they are really bad poets, and hate that "formula" is so difficult to rhyme. Not as bad as "orange," but close.
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Re: Generation ship: 100% breastmilk solution

Postby caters on September 16th, 2017, 6:26 pm 

BioWizard » September 16th, 2017, 12:06 pm wrote:Why are they "anti formula"?


They are anti formula because they know the benefits of formula feeding do not outweigh the benefits of breastfeeding.

The only benefits of formula other than nutrition are that moms with medical or personal issues aren't forced to either breastfeed or put their baby up for adoption. And formula increases the risk of childhood obesity. Now, this could be countered by lots of UVB exposure to produce Vitamin D but that has a high sunburn risk, especially in those with pale skin that won't tan(like my skin, it is about as pale as you get it without pathology and all I get other than a sunburn are freckles).

The benefits of breastfeeding are enormous, both for baby and for mom. Here are those benefits:

Lowered risk of breast cancer in mom
Lowered risk of ovarian cancer in mom
Very strong bond forms
Lowered risk of infection in baby
Lowered risk of obesity in baby
Increased bone density in mom(now this, I don't understand. I mean breastmilk requires calcium to produce and the bones are where calcium blood levels are regulated by levels of parathyroid hormone, so shouldn't the bones be less dense)
Accelerated weight loss(burning up to 500 more calories daily just by breastfeeding(and breastmilk has 20 calories per ounce produced))
Better response to vaccines(so Guillan-Barre is less likely)
It's free(well, unless you count about 6 bottles, lots of bags, and a breast pump)
Always at optimal temperature
Always available
Better friendships with other moms

That is way more benefits than you would get from formula. Be it induced lactation or be it pregnancy and birth, the same benefits apply.
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Re: Generation ship: 100% breastmilk solution

Postby BioWizard on October 18th, 2017, 4:45 pm 

caters » 16 Sep 2017 05:26 pm wrote:They are anti formula because they know the benefits of formula feeding do not outweigh the benefits of breastfeeding.


In that case, you'll be much better off creating a milk biosimilar using bioengineered human tissue. Much more efficient than harvesting milk from humans. More scalable and easier to QC too. If you've already mastered space travel and what not, this stuff should be fairly simple in comparison.

(which is the point I was leading to with my question)
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Re: Generation ship: 100% breastmilk solution

Postby mitchellmckain on October 23rd, 2017, 12:28 am 

BioWizard » October 18th, 2017, 3:45 pm wrote:In that case, you'll be much better off creating a milk biosimilar using bioengineered human tissue. Much more efficient than harvesting milk from humans. More scalable and easier to QC too.

I don't think so. Not only is this reinventing the wheel but a big part of the advantage of breast milk are the anti-bodies which are produced by living breathing whole human beings and not just breast tissue. I think this idea that high tech solutions are always better is weird. The truth is, it is hard to beat millions of years of evolution with mere technology, which is so hit or miss most of the time, it amounts to little more than just (dangerous) experimenting on human beings.

BioWizard » October 18th, 2017, 3:45 pm wrote: If you've already mastered space travel and what not, this stuff should be fairly simple in comparison.

What is that supposed to mean? Space travel is decades old and what you are talking about is not developed yet. A lot of space travel in science fiction is pure fantasy, according to which your statement amounts to saying something like, "if the moon is made of green cheese then the mountains of earth are made of rock candy."
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Re: Generation ship: 100% breastmilk solution

Postby BioWizard on October 23rd, 2017, 7:37 am 

mitchellmckain

I wight be able elaborate later if I get some time, but for now I’ll just say that we’ve been making antibodies in vitro for over 40 years. Bioengineering tissue is also close to becoming a mainstream field now. We have kidney tubules on a chip for drug testing. My group is working on creating an artificial kidney glomerulus using immortalized human cells. Between these two things we can hve a fully functional kidney organoid. There are also 3D printers that could print human tissue (one of my ex students is CEO of a company that produces such printers). Whatever you seem to think is futuristic Sci Fi is either near future, present, or even “decades old” technology.

Saying that we will be able to bioengineer milk-secreting tissue is not the stretch of the imagination you seem to think it is (with all the proteins, antibodies, vitamins, etc). Many if not all of the components of such a technology already exist. At this point it may very well be an R&D problem - not a conceptual question. Saying that it can’t be done because the technological readiness isn’t there (and you obviously don’t know enough about it) is an argument from ignorance. Saying that it can’t be done because you can’t imagine it being done would be an argument from self incredulity.

You sound heavier on the physical sciences. I’m guessing your knowledge of modern bioengineering, molecular biology, and biotechnology is relatively limited. That is perfectly OK. Though maybe you should read up a bit on what we can already do nowadays if this subject interests you.
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Re: Generation ship: 100% breastmilk solution

Postby BioWizard on October 23rd, 2017, 8:05 am 

This here seems like a whole different topic and should probably be its own different thread, but in any case...

The truth is, it is hard to beat millions of years of evolution with mere technology, which is so hit or miss most of the time, it amounts to little more than just (dangerous) experimenting on human beings.


Can you say that to the millions upon millions of people whose lives have been saved by small-molecule drugs, engineered biologics, and - most recently - engineered cellular therapies? These people should have been dead long before they actually did. But apparently biomedical science turned out to be a lot more to them than “just (dangerous) experimenting on human beings.“

Also, if you think evolution comes up with the most efficient solution every time, it’s possible that you haven’t studied biology closely enough. You may want to check out the “Blind Watchmaker”. I’m not a huge fan of the author but the book gives a lot of good examples demonstrating that point. And its very accessible regardless of one’s background knowledge of biological sciences.
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Re: Generation ship: 100% breastmilk solution

Postby mitchellmckain on October 23rd, 2017, 4:11 pm 

BioWizard » October 23rd, 2017, 6:37 am wrote:mitchellmckain

I wight be able elaborate later if I get some time, but for now I’ll just say that we’ve been making antibodies in vitro for over 40 years. Bioengineering tissue is also close to becoming a mainstream field now. We have kidney tubules on a chip for drug testing. My group is working on creating an artificial kidney glomerulus using immortalized human cells. Between these two things we can hve a fully functional kidney organoid. There are also 3D printers that could print human tissue (one of my ex students is CEO of a company that produces such printers). Whatever you seem to think is futuristic Sci Fi is either near future, present, or even “decades old” technology.

Saying that we will be able to bioengineer milk-secreting tissue is not the stretch of the imagination you seem to think it is (with all the proteins, antibodies, vitamins, etc). Many if not all of the components of such a technology already exist. At this point it may very well be an R&D problem - not a conceptual question. Saying that it can’t be done because the technological readiness isn’t there (and you obviously don’t know enough about it) is an argument from ignorance. Saying that it can’t be done because you can’t imagine it being done would be an argument from self incredulity.

You sound heavier on the physical sciences. I’m guessing your knowledge of modern bioengineering, molecular biology, and biotechnology is relatively limited. That is perfectly OK. Though maybe you should read up a bit on what we can already do nowadays if this subject interests you.


All of which has practically nothing to do with what I actually said.

You admit this hasn't been developed yet and I said NOTHING about whether this was in our reach or not. Nor did you clarify what you meant about space travel. Nor does your comment about the ABILITY to make antibodies (which I said nothing about) address the fact that in the human body we already have everything we need automatically producing what antibodies are needed. I completely fail to see how leaving this up to some stupid company or technicians to include all the right things is somehow better. That was my objection -- this weird idea that technology should be thought better than what is produced by evolution. It is a FACT that this kind of nonsense has killed lots of infants. Have you heard of the formula disaster in third world countries ignoring the simple fact that access to safe water is often lacking?

Frankly what technology is so much better for is a bunch of companies to make money off of people by creating bogus markets for things people don't really need and are often much much better without as they often find out when it is much much too late.
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Re: Generation ship: 100% breastmilk solution

Postby BioWizard on October 23rd, 2017, 4:59 pm 

First of all, please take a couple of deep breathes and try to relax - there's no need to get hysterical about a thought experiment.

mitchellmckain » 23 Oct 2017 03:11 pm wrote:All of which has practically nothing to do with what I actually said.


Believe it or not, you are correct. But that is only because I am trying to address the question in the OP, while you are going off on a rant about something entirely irrelevant. I'm still not sure what your exact issue is - maybe it's the unethical practices of the private sector, maybe it's the failures of government regulation, maybe it's personal frustrations, or maybe you're just unhinged. I don't know and it's not my job to know. The OP is asking for an efficient and sustainable way to generate breastmilk on an alien space ship traveling through space. You realize this is a hypothetical question about a fictional scenario, right? This isn't about changing what's in the milk carton in your fridge, OK? Please try to relax.

The OP proposed to pretty much farm human beings for breastmilk. I proposed to bioengineer the milk instead, because that would be more efficient, more sustainable, and more ethical than using humans as farm cows. Whatever it is in the milk, we can engineer biological tissue to produce the same components through rigorous R&D. For the antibodies that would be relevant to the spaceship, we would expose a culture of engineered B cells to pathogens and antigens that are available on the ship, isolate the antibodies they secrete, and add them to the milk to recreate the exact chemical solution that a human's breast would produce.

If the bioengineered milk contains precisely the same ingredients in breast milk (both organic and inorganic) at median proportions, then it IS breast milk for all chemical and biological purposes.

Are you able to leverage a scientific criticism against my proposal that does not involve irrelevant ranting about history and politics? And as you do that, remember that I am proposing it as an alternative to the hypothetical proposal to farm it from humans (I'm emphasizing the word "hypothetical in the hope that it will avoid us an unwarranted panic attack).
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Re: Generation ship: 100% breastmilk solution

Postby BioWizard on October 23rd, 2017, 5:13 pm 

And by the way, this here is a hit and miss:

mitchellmckain » 23 Oct 2017 03:11 pm wrote:Nor does your comment about the ABILITY to make antibodies (which I said nothing about)


I said what I said about antibodies specifically to respond to your previous point here:

mitchellmckain wrote:I don't think so. Not only is this reinventing the wheel but a big part of the advantage of breast milk are the anti-bodies which are produced by living breathing whole human beings and not just breast tissue.


Your point was that breast tissue (more specifically cuboidal cells) doesn't produce the antibodies, and you are right about that. Which is why I answered that this part could be done independently by another engineered tissue and then added to the milk (which is pretty much what happens for breastmilk).

Are you honestly unable to see the connection between your statement and my response to it? Or do you just want to rant and equivocate? You're not being very helpful and you're just derailing caters' thought experiment. I'd prefer it if you stop that and either try to become helpful (and on point), or find a different - more relevant thread - to air your irrelevant grievances.
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Re: Generation ship: 100% breastmilk solution

Postby BioWizard on October 23rd, 2017, 5:15 pm 

caters do you have any new questions?
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