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The story of the connection between breast milk and the infant immune system is absolutely fascinating.

Now a new review paper by Bassel Dawod, Dr Meghan Azad (who is featured in our courses) and colleagues gives a brilliant insight into how human milk shapes the innate and adaptive infant immune systems.

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About a baby’s immune system

Here are some of the main points:

  • A baby’s immune system starts to develop in utero.
  • The development of the baby’s immune system continues after birth.
  • Human milk plays a critical role in this process.
  • Human milk contains a long list of components that influence the developing mucosal immune systems in a breastfed infant.
  • These components include: immunoglobulins, immune cells, microbes, mucins, cytokines, soluble receptors and human milk oligosaccharides.

  • Breast milk provides immunoglobulins (also known as antibodies) which have been produced by the mother.

  • These antibodies offer the baby "passive immunity" protection against pathogens.

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About human milk oligosaccharides

Here are some key points about breast milk and the infant microbiome - very simply explained.

  • If you have taken our full-length breast milk course, you'll know that human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are the 3rd largest component of breast milk.
  • HMOs feed the beneficial microorganisms in the baby’s gut transferred from the mother (or birth parent) during and after birth.
  • Plus more beneficial microbes are transferred to the infant via breast milk itself.
  • Fed by the HMOs, the beneficial microorganisms quickly multiply to colonise the infant gut.
  • Now new research suggests certain microbes in breast milk may play a role in seeding and shaping the infant gut microbiome.
  • The microorganisms in the infant microbiome help train the developing immune system.
  • The infant microbiome also plays a key role in regulating gut barrier integrity.

And here’s something else about the wonder-power of HMOs discussed in the new paper.

  • Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) have now been shown to directly modulate gene expression in mast and goblet cells in the gastrointestinal tract.

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What does all this mean?

Breast milk provides “passive immunity” while the infant immune system matures.

Breast milk may also protect against chronic conditions long after weaning.

In conclusion - quoting from the abstract of the paper:

“Human milk provides critical immune protection and stimulation to breastfed infants”

Amazing!


Scientific Reference:

Dawod, Bassel; Marshall, Jean S.; Azad, Meghan B. Breastfeeding and the developmental origins of mucosal immunity: how human milk shapes the innate and adaptive mucosal immune systems, Current Opinion in Gastroenterology: November 2021 - Volume 37 - Issue 6 - p 547-556 doi: 10.1097/MOG.0000000000000778

https://journals.lww.com/co-gastroenterology/Citat...

Tweetorial about the paper by Meghan Azad:

https://twitter.com/MeghanAzad/status/144544354718...

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Want to learn more? Take one of our free or paid courses!

Breast Milk and the Infant Microbiome course

(Available on this link for half-price) >>> https://microbirth.teachable.com/p/breastmilk12/


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Want a free course?

Take our FREE mini-course on the infant microbiome.

Immediate access and go-at-your-own pace.

Learn from 6 professors about why vaginal birth and breast milk are so critical to a child's long-term health.

Link to enroll: >>> https://microbirth.teachable.com/p/taster/

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Contact Us

You can contact us via Microbirth website: https://microbirth.com/contact-us/

You can reach our school home page via any of these links:

Microbiome Courses: microbiomecourses.com

Microbiome Academy: microbiomeacademy.com

Microbirth School: https://microbirth.teachable.com

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