Results of a study conducted by an international team of researchers point out the fact that infections experienced by infants could be avoided by breastfeeding. Breast milk is believed to provide life lasting protection in this matter. Moreover, this protection is considered to occur through the transfer of immune cells.
This study was conducted by specialists from the University of Liege, University of Cardiff, University of Washington and University of Mainz, University of Birmingham, the University of Orleans in France and the University of Cape Town in South Africa.
Older scientific theories challenged by the new study
Throughout the study, infant mice and their mothers were analyzed. Through investigating the evolution of a number of mice that were breastfed by their mothers, scientists found out that the infants gradually acquired life-long protection against a specific type of worm infection that the mother had, as reported in the study that was published on May 30 in the journal Science Advances.
Prior to this, it was generally accepted that this type of protection against some illnesses is transferred by the mother to the baby through breastfeeding, but that it only lasts throughout the period when the baby is breastfed, and that the transfer was possible through a mother’s proteins such as antibodies.
Breastfeeding offers life-long protection against infections to infants
William Horsnell, the paper’s corresponding author who also activates across the University of Birmingham, the University of Orleans in France and the University of Cape Town in South Africa, states that through this study, the fact that infections experienced before pregnancy by mother can transfer life lasting cellular protection to infant was demonstrated for the first time.
Moreover, the study shows that the immunity is passed onto the baby by cells in the milk of the mother and not by proteins such as antibodies, for example, as previously thought. This is extremely valuable information is believed to later serve as a base for further research. Scientists could create a brand new vaccine that will allow the mother to transfer life-long immunity to her kids, as stated by the specialists.