Breast Milk

Infant Immunity Via Breast Milk

Breast milk is a food naturally designed to meet the infants’ needs best. It has all the nutrients your little one needs in just the right amounts and is easy to digest. In addition to the nutritional benefits, there’s another bonus: Breast milk helps build and maintain your baby’s immune system.

How does a baby’s immune system develop? 

The immune system begins to develop in the womb, and its structure and function develop until puberty. During this long period, the immune system goes through five critical stages.

  1. neonatal up to 28 days of life
  2. up to 4-6 months
  3. up to 2 years old
  4.  up to 4-6 years old
  5.  up to 12 to 15 years old

A newborn baby’s immunity completely depends on the mother during the first and second critical periods, when his/her nutrition consists only of breast milk.

What you should know about breast milk

Breast milk is known to be 88% water, and the remaining 12% is a whole set of nutrients, most of which are still unstudied. No one even knows their exact number. But today, scientists are talking about a unique component of breast milk called oligosaccharides.

Oligosaccharides are breast milk’s third most significant substance after lactose and fat. It has been proven that they are involved in forming human immunity. No single component in a baby’s body can break them down, so all of them in their pure form are deposited in the intestines and form the baby’s gut microbiota. Studies have shown that oligosaccharides protect babies from bacteria and viruses. 

The way a baby is nourished in the first months of life has a major influence on his or her future health. Breast milk, the composition of which is constantly adapted to the needs of a growing baby, helps shape health as effectively as possible. Breast milk oligosaccharides are one of the critical components ensuring this effect.

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How does a baby’s immunity depend on the duration of breastfeeding?

The WHO recommends breastfeeding for at least the first 6 months. But the mother herself determines the duration of breastfeeding. The baby needs a certain balance of nutrients at each stage of development and growth. And breast milk is a perfect food to meet such nutritional needs as its composition is constantly changing. 

The same applies to formula-fed babies: as their age needs change, the composition of the formula changes. Passive immunity is formed on formula feeding in the same way as breastfeeding if the baby gets a milk formula with all the necessary nutrients.

Does baby formula boost the infant’s immune system?

A proper and healthy diet supports a child’s health from birth and throughout life (reducing the risk of allergies, diabetes, obesity, etc.). And there is no doubt that breast milk is the best choice for infant nutrition because it is impossible to substitute all its components in the production of infant formulas.

But there are situations when exclusive breastfeeding is not possible, and then mothers have to switch to breast milk substitutes. It is essential for every parent that the baby tolerates the formula well and that it is as close in composition to breast milk as possible. That is why all formula manufacturers have been researching for many years to solve this problem and create the best organic baby formula.

Thanks to the development of technology, there is a real opportunity to boost the immune status of children in their first years of life. Organic baby formulas contain oligosaccharides identical to breast milk. That gives babies, who for certain reasons are deprived of the opportunity to receive breast milk, a chance for better immune protection.