The Effect of Feeding Human Milk on the Development of Immunity in Low Birth Weight Infants
Epidemiologic evidence suggests that infants fed cow’s milk rather than maternal milk have a higher frequency and severity of infectious, allergic, and possibly other inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts. While some of these illnesses may be attributed to adverse effects of ingesting heterologous milk, some reduction in illness in infants fed maternal milk may reflect alterations in the infants’ immune function. The mechanisms for such protection might include passive transfer of the mucosal immune factors found in high concentration in human milk (1), interactions between the infant’s immune factors and those in the milk (2), or possibly induction by human milk of synthesis or secretion of factors which contribute to the infant’s host defense. However, evidence that any of these mechanisms is operative is limited.
KeywordsHuman Milk Immune Factor Immunologic Factor Maternal Milk Stool Output
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