Breast milk effective against infections: Pediatrician

ISTANBUL (AA) – Breast milk, which is a living liquid, not only provides nutrition to infants but it strengthens the immune system and protects them from infections, according to a top Turkish pediatrician.

“Studies show that infants who breastfeed for a year are 50% less likely to catch an infection than other babies,” said Nalan Karabayir, who teaches pediatric health and diseases at Medipol Mega University Hospital in Istanbul.

-Breast milk antibodies protect from COVID-19

Antibodies for the coronavirus were found in the milk of mothers who were vaccinated, and babies can be protected in this way.

Karabayir said if the mother is inoculated against the coronavirus, it will protect her and her baby from an infection.

Touching on the effects of COVID-19 on mothers and infants, referring to studies, Karabayir said the pandemic affects children of all ages but with our current knowledge, it is accepted that it is not transmitted through breast milk.

“It is known that antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, which occur in the mother who had a COVID-19 infection, also pass into breast milk and protect the baby from infection,” she said.

It is known that breastfeeding is safe as long as mothers strictly follow isolation practices such as wearing masks, social distancing and hygiene, she said.

Underlining that living cells of the mother’s immune system are present in breast milk, Karabayir said, “Thanks to breast milk, the baby receives 1.5 million live cells in every 1 milliliter [0.03 ounce] of milk.”

The World Health Organization and groups dealing with infant and child health suggest that babies should breastfeed for the first six months and breastfeeding should continue until at least they reach 2 years old, she said.

Karabayir underscored that babies are born before their immune systems are fully mature. “Physical and chemical conservators are not yet developed postnatally. For this reason, they need immunological components in breast milk to combat microorganisms that may cause infection.”

“In addition to the nutritional properties of breast milk, the live cells, probiotics, cytokines, immunoglobulins, oligosaccharides it contains, provide protection of the baby from infections. For these reasons, breast milk is unique,” she added.

Source: Anadolu Agency