What immunities are passed through breast milk?

Breast milk contains various immunities such as antibodies, white blood cells, and other immune factors that aid in protecting the infant against infections and diseases, bolstering their immune system.

Now let’s take a closer look

Breast milk is an extraordinary substance that not only provides essential nutrition but also plays a crucial role in protecting infants against infections and diseases. It contains a range of immunities, including antibodies, white blood cells, and other immune factors that support the development and function of the baby’s immune system.

Antibodies, also known as immunoglobulins, are specialized proteins produced by the mother’s immune system in response to infections or vaccinations. These antibodies are then passed on to the baby through breast milk, providing passive immunity. One significant antibody present in breast milk is Immunoglobulin A (IgA), which plays a vital role in defending against respiratory and gastrointestinal infections.

Interestingly, breast milk is dynamic and adapts to the specific needs of the infant. “Human milk is not a one-size-fits-all liquid,” states Dr. Kathleen Marinelli, a neonatologist. It contains live white blood cells, such as neutrophils, monocytes, and macrophages, that actively fight off pathogens and promote immune response in the baby’s body.

Here are some interesting facts about the immunities found in breast milk:

  1. Protective Factors: Breast milk contains numerous immune factors beyond antibodies, including cytokines, chemokines, and lactoferrin, which have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

  2. Maternal Vaccination: When a mother is vaccinated against certain diseases, her body produces specific antibodies that can be passed on to the baby through breast milk, offering protection even before the infant is eligible for vaccination.

  3. Gut Health: Breast milk promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the baby’s gut, known as probiotics. These bacteria play a crucial role in supporting the immune system and maintaining overall health.

  4. Reduced Allergies: Breastfeeding has been linked to a decreased risk of allergies and asthma in children, possibly due to the immunological components in breast milk that help regulate and balance the immune response.

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To illustrate the spectrum of immune factors found in breast milk, here is a simplified table:

Immune Factors Function
Antibodies (e.g., IgA) Neutralize pathogens and prevent their attachment to mucous membranes
White blood cells Actively fight off infections and promote immune response
Cytokines and chemokines Regulate immune cell communication and inflammation
Lactoferrin Has antimicrobial properties and supports iron metabolism
Probiotics Promote a healthy gut flora and strengthen the immune system

As the famous American author and pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock once said, “Breast milk is not only the best source of nourishment for your baby but also a rich source of immune protection.” The unique blend of immunities in breast milk highlights its vital role in safeguarding the health and well-being of infants.

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Breast milk contains antibodies that are produced by the mother and passed on to the baby during pregnancy and breastfeeding, providing protection against infections and diseases. If the mother has had COVID-19, she can pass on antibodies through breast milk, which is even more concentrated than in her blood. The expert emphasizes that breast milk should be viewed as more than just nutrition, but as a form of medicine for the baby.

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A specific type of antibody found in breastmilk, IgA, protects infants from infections. When breast milk coats the baby’s oral mucosa, nasal cavity, Eustachian tubes, and GI tract, the IgA binds to bacteria and viruses at that surface preventing them from entering the baby’s system.

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Considering this, What type of immunity does breast milk provide? The reply will be: Breast milk also contains antibodies, which means that babies who are breastfed have passive immunity for longer. The thick yellowish milk (colostrum) produced for the first few days following birth is particularly rich in antibodies.

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Hereof, What type of antibodies pass through breast milk? The response is: Secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA) is the main antibody found in breast milk, and it’s considered the most important one. Babies are born with low levels of IgA. As they grow, their immune system makes more IgA and their levels slowly rise. But when a baby breastfeeds, they get high levels of IgA from breast milk.

Subsequently, Can immunity be passed through breast milk?
Answer: However, there are antibodies in breastmilk the entire time a mother continues to nurse. Through these antibodies, the mother can pass on some protection from infectious illness she had in the past, and those she gets while breastfeeding.

Do babies still get antibodies from pumped milk?
Response will be: Babies that take in breast milk that is pumped still receive all of the same immune-boosting power as babies that feed at the breast. The only time this may not apply is if the baby is coming down with a cold.

Facts on the subject

Topic fact: Breast milk contains more lactose (milk sugar) and tastes sweeter than formula. Human milk that has truly soured has a very distinct taste and odor – much like spoiled cow’s milk. Breast milk contains more lactose (milk sugar) and tastes sweeter than formula. It’s been described as tasting like ‘melted ice cream’. Human milk that has truly soured has a very distinct taste and odor – much like spoiled cow’s milk. If you’re not sure if the milk is still good, just give it a sniff.
Thematic fact: A cup of breast milk contains about 170 calories a cup (20 more than whole milk), 10 grams of fat, 16 grams of carbs, and 2 grams of protein (5 less than whole milk), as well as vitamins and minerals. “Interestingly, there are also several growth hormones in breast milk,” says St. Pierre.
It is interesting: Breast milk contains many more substances than formula and has hundreds to thousands of different active components 3 4. Ingredients missing from formula include complex living cells such as: Antimicrobial factors —to protect baby against infection and inflammation
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Pregnancy and the baby