Protective factors of Breast Milk: Nestle
The importance of breast milk in protecting new-born from infection is recognized worldwide. There decline in breastfeeding leads to infant morbidity and mortality since there is no substitute for it. Mother’s milk is the best food a baby can have exclusively in the first 6 months of life. There are various advantages of breastfeeding. It helps build the mother’s confidence in her ability to breastfeed. The bonding and attachment of mother and baby are enhanced. The amount of colostrum received is small and is sufficient to meet the baby’s needs until lacto genesis has commenced. Specific and nonspecific factors are transferred through breast milk. The nonspecific mechanisms functions effectively with no prior exposure to a microorganism or its antigens. Intact skin, mucous membranes, gastric acid and digestive enzymes serve as barriers to microorganisms. Specific host defence mechanisms function most effectively after exposure to the infecting agents or its antigens. The transfer of immunity takes place while breastfeeding. Passive immunity results from active placental transfer of specific antibodies from mother to foetus. There are various types of breast milk depending on the day of the birth of the baby. There is Colostrum which is produced in the 1st 3-5 days of life. It is the first postpartum week’s mammary secretion consisting of yellowish (beta carotene) thick fluid. Its protein content is rich in sIgA and immunologically competent mononuclear cells. It contains antioxidants which trap neutrophil-generated oxygen radicals. Then there is pre term milk which is produced between day 7 and 28 and there is mature breast milk which is produced after day 30.The benefits of breast milk are two way. It enhances cognitive development by Dacosohexanoic acid (DHA), lactose and ‘Skin to Skin’ contact and ‘face to face’ position. It also has protective properties which depend on humoral and cellular factors. Humoral factors like anti-infective properties, bifidus factor, enzyme like lysozyme and hormone like substance. Cellular factors are WBC, both neutrophil and lymphocytes Macrophages and epithelial cells. Various tests have been done to show that risk of diarrhoea decreases by breastfeeding in Philippines, or the risk of death from pneumonia increasing if the infant is not breastfed in Brazil. Tests have also shown that breastfeeding has been associated to higher IQ scores in young adults in Denmark.Breast milk also contains anti allergic properties. Breast Milk and colostrum provide the infant with secretary IgA. Secretary IgA acts as an antigen in the immature gut. Early studies have examined the use of breast milk as protection against necrotizing enterocolitis. The human milk also contains anti-bacterial properties. There are many organisms that are affected by anti-infective factors in human milk. It also reduces risk and severity of infectious illness like diarrhoea, bacteremia, otitis media, and urinary tract disease among infants.