Vicky Greene, a 31-year-old from south Devon in the first year of a Biosciences degree, wanted to compare the quality of breast milk at different ages for a small university project.
Greene uploaded a photo of six petri dishes containing bacteria and milk samples from a mother feeding a 15-month-old (labelled BmA) and a her own milk feeding a three-year-old (labelled BmB), stressing that it was preliminary data, as part of a bigger study.
“The white spots in the middle are discs soaked in two samples of breastmilk,” she wrote on Facebook on 6 February.
“See the clear bit around the discs - that’s where the proteins in the milk have killed off the bacteria! I’m so excited.
“It also worked with E. coli and had a fairly good go at MRSA too... the future is bright, the future is breast milk.”
Greene explained that the project is part of her research for a module in microbiology. At this stage, she can’t go into too much detail on what else she’s found as she’s working on publishing a report, to come out later in the year.
“My hypothesis is exciting though and I’m glad that people think breast milk is amazing like I do,” she told The Huffington Post UK.
“There is much more data but it is only this picture I have shared. This picture shows that breast milk can kill off bacteria, but also that the milk antibodies still inhibits bacteria just as effectively the longer you feed.
“I have more proof but that won’t be released until published.”
Greene told HuffPost UK to “watch this space” for when she releases her further findings.
Many other people have been fascinated by the photo, as it was shared more than 20,000 times within three days of being posted on Monday 6 February.
“Excellent project. Master’s worthy,” one person wrote. “Please share your final write up.”
Another added: “This is soooo cool and really not that surprising. I’m amazed my body can do that for my son.”