CORVALLIS, Ore. – The benefits of mother’s milk for babies, such as lower disease risks and improved cognitive development, are well known. But the story isn’t so clear for infants born prematurely. Even when fed breast milk they can fail to thrive.

At Science Pub Corvallis on March 9, David Dallas will explore what scientists know about human milk and how babies digest it. Dallas is an assistant professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University. He leads studies of milk composition and the products of digestion with physician-scientists at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.

“We don’t know if premature babies digest milk as well as full-term babies,” said Dallas. “They may be exposed to completely different proteins and peptides. We don’t know how digestion affects the overall protein breakdown. It’s a big black box.”

As physicians struggle to help these infants, researchers like Dallas are focused on developing new treatments tailored to nutritional needs. More than half a million babies — about 1 in 10 births — are born prematurely in the United States every year. And for those born extremely early, between 23 and 28 weeks, 1 in 4 dies in the hospital.

Science Pub begins at 6 p.m. in the Old World Deli, 341 2nd St. in Corvallis and is free and open to the public. Registration is required and can be done online at or by contacting University Events at 541-737-4717 or [email protected]. If registration is closed (fully booked), walk-ins are welcome, but people who arrive without a ticket will not be admitted to the reserved seating area until 6 p.m.

Podcasts of previous Corvallis Science Pub events on topics such as “Technology in the Fields” and “From Wolves to the Warning to Humanity: Facing the Environmental Crisis through Science” are available at

Sponsors of Science Pub include Terra magazine at OSU, the Downtown Corvallis Association, the OSU Research Office and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

For accommodations for disabilities or questions, contact University Events at 541-737-4717 or [email protected].

General OSU

About Oregon State University: As one of only three land, sea, space and sun grant universities in the nation, Oregon State serves Oregon and the world by working on today’s most pressing issues. Our more than 35,000 students come from across the globe, and our programs operate in every Oregon county. Oregon State receives more research funding than all of the state’s comprehensive public universities combined. At our campuses in Corvallis and Bend, marine research center in Newport, OSU Portland Center and award-winning Ecampus, we excel at shaping today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders.

Story By: 

Nick Houtman, 541-737-0788, [email protected]


David Dallas, 541-737-1751, [email protected]

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