Breast milk protects against infections
“In recent years we have found that breastfeeding offers many more benefits than expected. Not only transmits the defenses of the mother to the child, but activates certain mechanisms of the baby’s own immune system, “said Lars Hanson, coordinator of the study.
The researchers studied children under six who had suffered meningitis or pneumonia caused by the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib). The results indicated that children older than 18 years who had been breastfed for more than 13 weeks had a stronger immune response to the bacteria than children fed for less than 13 weeks. However, there were no differences in the immune response among participants younger than 18 months.
Although the vaccine against meningitis is available in all industrialized countries, developing populations do not always have access to this means of prevention, so the authors suggest that the finding of this study be used as a model to study the benefits of breastfeeding in other diseases and common infections. The work has also shown that breast milk protects against diarrhea, otitis media or urinary tract infections.
Current recommendations indicate that the period of breastfeeding should be for a minimum period of four or six months, and should exceed the year as far as possible.