The Importance and Anti-Infective Properties of Human Milk

The Importance and Anti-Infective Properties of Human Milk

Breastfeeding from a woman who is in good health and nutritional status provides a complete food which is unique to the species. There is no better nutrition for healthy infants both at term and during the early months of life. 

Advantages Associated with Breastfeeding

  1. Prevention of infection
  2. Nutrition and economic factors
  3. Breastfed babies are less liable to be overweight
  4. Breastfeeding provide protection against diabetes mellitus in newborns.
  5. Breastfeeding decreases ovulation, thus helping to maintain space between births.

Anti-Infective Properties of Human Milk

There have been numerous reviews of the anti-infective properties of human milk. Human milk contains T-lymphocytes, B-lymphocytes and macrophages

These play a major role and are important for :

  1. Preventing necrotising enterocolitis.
  2. Preventing non-specific antiviral agents.
  3. Neutralizing antibodies to poliomyelitis.
  4. Immunoglobulins IgA, IgG, IgM.
  5. Nine components of complements.
  6. Lactoferrins, with which immunoglobulins protect against enteric infections and cholera.
  7. Preventing non-specific agents, such as lysozyme, lacto-peroxidase and transferrin, which inhibit bacterial growth.

Colostrum contains a high concentration of C3, IgA and lactoferrin, all important for protection against Gram-negative organisms in the newborn child. It contains antibodies against respiratory syncytial virus.

The recommendation on breastfeeding comes from the Working Party on the feeding of infants and young children, which reported in 1988 on infant feeding practices in the United Kingdom. The working party stressed the importance of breastfeeding, further recommending ‘that the Government Health Department should encourage all mothers to breastfeed their babies. The reason being, beside the fact that breastfeeding has psychological advantages to the baby, the physical contact between mother and baby is also important and develops during this stage.


Written By: Dr. Harman

Edited By: C. Soni


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