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Acta Paediatrica Scandinavica. 1978 September; 67(5):553-582.6 research articles plus an introduction constitute this review of present knowledge of lactation and its effects. The superiority of human milk as compared with milk of other origin for feeding newborns, term or preterm, was analyzed in terms of biological development related to digestive, metabolic, and excretory functions during fetal and postnatal life in the 1st article. WHO, concerned with the declining breast feeding rate in developing countries, has organized investigations in 9 different countries of different aspects of breast feeding and breast milk with the aim of formulating programs of intervention. Basic epidemiological data on 24,000 mother/child pairs have just been reported in a preliminary manner, emphasizing socioeconomic differences. The 3rd study investigated the nitrogen and protein components of human milk; the true protein content of human milk is .9% in both well-nourished and malnourished mothers. The next study reviewed lipid and trace element composition of human milk in relation to ethnic variables. Contaminants in human milk are characterized in the next review, with DDT and PCBs the most outstanding. The final article emphasizes new knowledge in human milk immunoglobulin, the most predominant of which is secretory IgA.