BE01: Human Milk Composition and Function

This course details the biochemistry and immunology of human milk and the importance of these components to the development of total health and well-being of infants and mothers/lactating parents.

The relative health risks of not breast/chestfeeding will be covered for you to understand clearly the significance of breast/chestfeeding.

Access Time:
1 month (starting from time of purchase)
Enrolling in more than 1 course? Time is cumulative ie buy 2 courses, have 2 months access to both courses
12 L CERPs / 12 Pre-exam Education Hours / 12 CH
Detailed Content Outline domains:  I (a-2, b-3,5), II (b-1,4), III (a-8, b-3,4), IV (f), V (c, j), VII (d-1,2,3)
This course is facilitated by an experienced International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)

Well-constructed online learning gives you the best of both worlds - quality content that you can work through at your own pace, in your own place, but with a level of personal attention that even rivals face-to-face programs. And, you guessed it, Health e-Learning-IIHL programs are the BEST of online learning with all these great features:

  • Log in when it suits you 24/7/365
  • Study at your own pace within your enrolment period
    • no formal deadlines, stressful exams, or assignments
  • All reading provided or linked
  • Periodic testing of knowledge with fun self-test activities
  • Course facilitation by a highly experienced IBCLC tutor
  • Gain valuable support and network with students from all over the world
  • Immediate feedback for the final online assessment
    • certificate of completion issued immediately
  • Administrative and technical support is available online


Before commencing this course you should have a thorough understanding of basic biochemistry and immunology. A good anatomy and physiology textbook would support your knowledge.


  1. Introduction
  2. Optimal Nutrition
    • Protein
    • Carbohydrates
    • Milk Lipids
    • Vitamins
    • Minerals
    • Stages of Lactation
  3. Immunology
    • Immune System Development
    • Defenses in human milk
  4. Health Outcomes
    • Acute conditions
    • Chronic Disease Conditions
    • Allergic responses
    • Developmental characteristics
    • Maternal/lactating parental implications
  5. Feeding Alternatives


An active forum, where topical issues may be raised, case studies discussed, questions posed and answered, links to additional information provided, etc, is facilitated by an experienced IBCLC and is an integral part of the course. Reading and participating in this forum will enhance your learning experience and that of your colleagues.

Reading Material

  • All required reading materials and resources are available online.
    • A quality, current lactation text is advisable to augment your studies. Please see our list of recommended resources for further information.
  • Participants are permitted to print one (1) copy of their course notes for personal use only.
    • If you do wish to print, please be aware that some courses are over 60 pages in length. Please be advised that links to articles and interactive activities are not available in the printed version.

Quality Assurance

  • Authors: Denise Fisher, MMP, BN, IBCLC and Carole Dobrich, B.Sc., RN, IBCLC 
  • Immunology topic reviewed by Prof Lars Hanson, MD, PhD, FRCPCH(hon), Professor Emeritus, Dept of Clinical Immunology, Göteborg University, Sweden.
  • Current program reviewed by Melanie Gringras, BScN, IBCLC, and Carole Dobrich, B.Sc., RN, IBCLC
  • All courses are reviewed biannually and updated as new information becomes available.
  • Course updates by Melanie Gringras, BScN, IBCLC, and Carole Dobrich, B.Sc., RN, IBCLC 


This course aims to give you a good understanding of the biochemical and immunological composition of human milk and a strong appreciation of its value to babies and children, and their mothers/lactating parents.


On successful completion of this course, you will be able to

  • list the macronutrients and many micronutrients in human milk, describing their function and value to the child
  • describe what influences nutrient concentration in human milk
  • describe the immunological functions of the major proteins, carbohydrates, and fats in human milk
  • list 5 acute conditions and 5 chronic diseases directly attributable to being artificially-fed
  • discuss 5 interventions, of which one is related to feeding choice, that will delay or lessen the severity of allergic disease in children
  • discuss developmental delays attributable to artificial feeding
  • list the health implications of suppressing lactation on maternal anemia, contraception, weight control, diabetes, breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and ovarian cancer
  • debate the ethical responsibilities of informed consent that influence the infant feeding decision


Achievement of the learning objectives is assessed by automatically graded, online, multiple-choice questions. A passing grade is 80%.

A Workbook, downloaded from the course, is not required to be submitted, but completion will aid learning and provide an excellent resource.

When you successfully complete the course you can download your Certificate of Completion immediately. Your Certificate notes ongoing education accreditation points.


On successful completion of this course, you will be awarded:

  • 12 L CERPs
  • 12 Professional Development Education hours
  • 12 CHs*

For IBLCE examination preparation, this course provides 12 pre-exam education hours.

For IBCLC recertification this course covers the following Detailed Content Outline Domains:

I. Development and Nutrition

  • A. Infant
    • 2. Food intolerances/allergies
  • B. Maternal
    • 3. Composition of human milk
    • 5. Maternal nutritional status

II. Physiology and Endocrinology

  • B. Endocrinology
    • 1. Hormonal influence of milk production
    • 4. Maternal autoimmune disorders

III. Pathology

  • A. Infant
    • 8. Infant acute disease (bacterial, viral, fungal, systemic)
  • B. Maternal
    • 3. Maternal acute disease (bacterial, viral, fungal, systemic)
    • 4. Maternal chronic disease

IV. Pharmacology and Toxicology

  • F. Contraception

V. Psychology, Sociology, and Anthropology

  • C. Foods to eat/avoid that affect lactation
  • J. Safe sleep

VII. Clinical Skills

  • D. Research
    • 1. Apply research in practice
    • 2. Appraise and interpret research results
    • 3. Use research to help develop policies and protocols

Do we offer CEUs? Need other types of accreditation? Please see our Accreditation FAQ for more information.


  1. This course is facilitated by an experienced International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
  2. The course is available as a one-month subscription commencing on the day of notification of your username and password.
  3. The subscription time is cumulative - for example, if you purchase 8 courses - you receive 8 months' access to all 8 courses.
  4. The subscription time may be extended by purchasing extensions but must be purchased before the subscription expiry date.
  5. The average time taken to complete this course and the assessment is 12 hours.
  6. On successful completion, your Certificate will be available to you in pdf format from the course website.
  7. Replacement certificates can be obtained for a fee, however, we maintain an official transcript that is available free for all customers to download at any time.

Fees and Payments

  • Enrollments are accepted online or upon receipt of an emailed enrollment form (limited special request).
  • Payments online are available via credit cards through either PSiGate or PayPal gateways.
  • The cost is US$135.00 per course.
  • Additional fees, that are out of our control, may be charged by your bank to convert this to your local currency.
  • Please see our Payments FAQ for more information.

Refunds and Privacy

Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information regarding refunds and our Privacy Policy is also available.