We all know that a breast milk is important for the newborn babies, but not a lot of people know how important really is.
Recent studies had confirmed that the breast milk is more important to the baby than any vaccine. It protects the baby from antibodies, proteins, and immune cells.
The breast milk contains molecules that prevent microorganisms from penetrating the tissues of the baby’s body. These molecules connect with the microbes in the hollow space (lumen) of the gastrointestinal tract. This way they block any microbes when crossing through the mucosa the layer of cells, which is also known as epithelium.
Some of the immune cells in breast milk are phagocytes and they directly destroy the microbes.
Studies have shown that the breast milk contains a specific sugar called lactose-n-difucohexaose I, that is extremely powerful against the Streptococcus agalacticae bacterium.
The so called immunoglobulin antibodies take five different forms (IgG, IgA, IgM, IgD, IgE) are all found in breast milk.
Therefore, infants that are fed with bottle milk have less chance in fighting the ingested pathogens.
The IgA secretory molecules who are passed by the suckling child can be of great benefit when binding to microorganisms and keep them away from the body’s tissues. Furthermore, the group of antibodies delivered to an infant is accurately targeted against pathogens in that child’s immediate surroundings.
When the mother comes in contact with a disease-causing agent each antibody she makes is specific to that agent. In other words, it binds to a single protein, or antigen, on the agent and will not waste time attacking irrelevant substances. That is because the mother makes antibodies only to pathogens in her environment, the baby receives the protection it most needs against the infectious agents it is most likely to encounter in the first weeks of life.
The antibodies that are transmitted to the baby, ignore the good bacteria that are found in the gut. This flora is important to crowd out the growth of harmful organisms.
In the Middle East, Southern America and Africa, a mother put breast milk drops on the baby’s eyes to fight off infection. This hasn’t been scientifically proven, but the tradition is long, so if it had not worked probably would it not continue to this day.
The findings on breast milk antibodies serve to reinforce the superior nutritional value of breast milk for newborns, which offers the baby long-term benefits that infant formula has been unable to match.
Furthermore, the quantity of sugars produced by the mother changes as the baby ages, so that a newborn baby will receive a higher amount of sugars in the breast milk compared to a six-month-old.
What happens at an early age is that natural killer cells, like many other immune cells, do not complete their functional maturation until adulthood, says study senior author Yasmina Laouar, Ph.D., assistant professor in the U-M Department of Microbiology and Immunology.
During this time we are left with an immature immune system that cannot protect us against infections, the reason why newborns and infants are more prone to infection, she says.
Source: Organic & Healthy