Breastfeeding is Good for Yet Another Reason

Breastfeeding is Good for Yet Another Reason

A mother’s breast milk supports immune responses in her newborn that help the infant’s gut become a healthy home to a mix of bacterial species, thanks in part to newly identified antibodies from the mother, according to a study by UC Berkeley researchers.

Scientists believe the gut is sterile and bacteria-free at birth, when suddenly the infant is exposed to bacteria from the wider world. The body learns to tolerate many bacterial species, and the relationship is regarded as mutually beneficial – in exchange for free meals, gut bacteria aid digestion, help prevent infection and enhance immune function.

The new study sheds light on how immune antibodies from breast milk interact with the just-forming immune system of the newborn to help shape lifelong immune responses that are key for establishing boundaries and balance between gut microbes and the mammalian host. If this balance fails to become established or later falters, chronic inflammatory conditions, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, may result.

A healthy relationship between host and bacteria is deemed to be “commensal,” essentially meaning that neither is harmed… Read More>>

Source: University of California

 

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