Mum’s science experiment comparing the bacteria-fighting properties of breast milk against formula has sparked a furious online debate.

Jessica Wilson a biology student, shared a photo on Facebook of two petri dishes side-by-side, showing how each liquid had performed in the task, with formula ‘having no effect’.

In her post, Jessica, who has a 17-month-old son, revealed that she had soaked four small assay discs in her own expressed breast milk, and another four in an unnamed brand of formula, shares Daily Mail.

She had then placed them into separate petri dishes, each containing the same strain of bacterica, micrococcus luteus, and recorded the results after 24 hours.

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Jessica revealed that the dish on the left – soaked in breast milk – showed ‘clear circles… where the breast milk has fought off the bacteria’. Whereas the dish on the right, soaked in formula milk, ‘has had no effect’.

Jessica wrote on Facebook: ‘My science project investigation results: 2 plates of Micrococcus luteus, 4 assay disks on each, the left is disks soaked in breast milk, the right is disks soaked in formula.

‘As you can see the clear circles around the disks is where the breast milk has fought off the bacteria and nearly cleared the plate, the formula on the other hand has had no effect and the bacteria has completely over run the plate, even moving the disks.

‘Proof boobs are magical and breast really is best! Be proud of what your giving your babies.’

Her post has had nearly 12,000 shares, but of course it has also sparked a debate on whether the experiment ‘shamed’ formula-feeding mothers.

Comments included:

‘Almost, if not all, women know that breast is best. However, many women can’t produce enough or keep up with breastfeeding. FED IS BEST! women don’t need to feel lesser then if they can’t breastfeed”

Another wrote,  ‘Fed is best. Sick of this war between breast vs formula. As long as babies are being fed we are doing a good job!!!!’

Rach said, ‘Some people actually suffer deep depression from not being able to breast feed so it’s not a big sook.

‘Mothers should help to build up other mothers not tear them down.

It is actually pretty fascinating though don’t you think?

Share your comments below

  • Excellent information and great to know, but unfortunately some have no choice


  • I think that this sort of study would make mums try to persevere more if they can – many give up too early and I know I nearly did. Then a friend of mine said you are trying too hard – relax when you are feeding and it will happen. And it did. Had I seen this sort of study I know I wouldn’t have needed her advise.


  • There is a few brands of formula and various types of mixtures amongst them. If they only tested one it is hardly a 100% authentic study.
    Mums need to not be made feel guilty if they are unable to breastfeed their baby successfully. There are Mums who no matter what they try cannot make milk with enough nourishment. You can have plenty but it have practically no nourishment in it. I personally know of such cases. To make matters more difficult, one baby was also lactose intolerant and only one brand of lactose free had no bad side effects on her baby.


  • I think some people are missing the point. We know breast is best we are fed that consistently. Scientific research is great and the more of it the better. It’s the comments she makes about breastfeeding that seem to be having a go at Mums who don’t. If you haven’t been through the agony that is trying to breastfeed and not being able to you can’t fully understand how difficult that is. I hope people don’t have to experience it because there is nothing worse than thinking breastmilk is best for your child and not being able to provide it. Studies have shown the devastating effects this can have on new Mothers. It is truly a traumatic and difficult time so to make off hand comments about it is just another twist of a very painful knife.


  • Wow, scientifically very interesting. Politically, here is another example of guilting those mums who can’t provide breast milk to their babies.


  • All the best to the young lass, but all that matters is that your child is fed, nurtured and protected.


  • Breast feeding is great if you can do it. sometimes it is not possible and those that cant should not be made to feel bad .I have been on both sides of the fence so to speak. What happens to the unfortunate mums that never produce any milk? I myself took 10 days before the milk came in. They found that out when I had baby no 2. On the other hand my nan fed 4 nippers and she had no nipples as such as she told me.. I breast fed three of my four kids but when I had the first one when the milk had not come in by day 5 she was put on carnation milk and water. She thrived and is a very healthy adult.


  • I don’t think the experiment is designed to drag women who can’t breastfeed down, but rather to show that if you can it should be what you choose. I was next to another woman in the hospital who I could clearly overhear talking to her partner saying that she couldn’t wait to have a drink after the baby arrived, etc. because she was planning to formula feed. This is wrong. I think everyone should at least try. Go back 50 years and women were encouraged to not even think about breast feeding, formula was fashionable. Of course fed is best. Calm down, people!


  • Well, good for you! Aren’t you a little sanctimonious? Unfortunately, not all of us are able to breastfeed – for medical and trauma reasons. So while you’re smugly sharing your wondrous experiment, I am happy in the knowledge I raised a healthy child on formula.


  • Breast milk is the perfect food for baby, and yes always choose this first. I feel sad when those who can breast feed choose not to, this is what should be discouraged for the health of babies. Having said that for a few breast feeding can be impossible and this is where formula makers need to make sure that probiotic bacteria is added, they still are taking short cuts to make formula and stricter controls in manufacturing formula need to be in place. There is also some mothers sharing their milk with others who cannot breast feed I believe. Glad I was able to breast feed for 2 years and then did not put my son on formula, but straight to sippy cup of rice milk with no problems.


  • Breast evidently and scientifically is best, that’s all she is pointing out. Not once did I read that she is shaming anyone for formula feeding. Everyone needs to stop bashing people for saying breast is best, they’re not attacking you! It’s a fact!! Obviously it isn’t possible for everyone to breastfeed, the world understands that, keep doing what you’re doing, this is science!!


  • This is amazing, and such good encouragement to mums that can breastfeed to keep going. I feel like breastfeeding is almost becoming like a taboo again, can’t mention it in any forum without being attacked & accused of belittling anyone who is unable to breastfeed for whatever reason. There is never one thing that is going to be applicable to & suit EVERY SINGLE PERSON. Society needs to stop being offended when something doesn’t 100% include them. Mums that breastfeed & mums that formula feed are equally great mums – they are both feeding & nourishing their babies with the best option they have. How mad has the world become where we can’t even encourage mums for fear of upsetting people who don’t fit into that particular category?


  • Absolutely fascinating !
    My eldest was prem and I was on medication at that time and the doctors didn’t want me to breastfeed her. I cried tears because of that and felt very misunderstood by people who tried to convince me it was ok. But now many years later I’m totally fine with it, while I’m also totally convinced breast is best.
    All I’m trying to say is that sometimes in our pain and hurt, our responses become very defensive.


  • Interesting. But I think it’s a personal choice and some women don’t even have a choice and cannot breast feed.


  • I don’t see this as an attack on mothers. I see this as an opportunity for the manufactures to go back to the lab and replicate the formula to within closer parameters to breast milk. There will always be a need for formula and they need to improve it.


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