Breastfeeding and Immunity
By Jemy Tomy
Most of us are aware about the fact that breastfeeding is beneficial for our babies. But how many mothers can breastfeed exclusively in this busy world. Research studies have proven that the benefits of breast milk mean we should try to support the breastfeeding mother as much as we can. Research led by the University of Birmingham and Birmingham Women's and Children's NHS Foundation Trust, has revealed new insight into the biological mechanisms for long-term benefits of breastfeeding in preventing disorders of the immune system in later life (New insight into why breastfed babies have improved immune systems, 2021).
Breastfeeding is known to be associated with better health outcomes in infancy and throughout adulthood, and previous research has shown that babies receiving breastmilk are less likely to develop asthma, obesity, and autoimmune diseases later in life compared to those who are exclusively formula fed (UniversityofBirmingham, 2021).
In the new study conducted by University of Birmingham, researchers have for the first time discovered that a specific type of immune cells, called regulatory T cells, expand in the first three weeks of life in breastfed human babies and are nearly twice as abundant as in formula fed babies. These cells also control the baby's immune response against maternal cells transferred with breastmilk and help reduce inflammation.
There are also many other studies supporting the benefits of Breast milk in babies. Another research study conducted by American Society of Nutrition also explains about Breast-Feeding and Its Role in Early Development of the Immune System in Infants.
Many mothers are aware about these benefits of breast milk but sometimes due to lack of time or lack of a support system, they depend more on formula and feel bottle feeding is the best option for them. However, the research shows that breastfeeding is best for baby’s development and should be encouraged wherever possible.
Nutrition, A. S. (n.d.). Breast-Feeding and Its Role in Early Development of the Immune System in Infants: Consequences for Health Later in Life.
University of Birmingham. (2021). New insight into why breastfed babies have improved immune systems. Science Daily.
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