Breastfeeding provides infants life-long immunity from infection - UCT research

The advantages of breastfeeding have been well documented. But now local scientists have found that mothers can transfer life-long protection against infection to their infants by breastfeeding.

A team of researchers led by scientists from the University of Cape Town (UCT) have made this breakthrough with tests on mice.

Lead researcher, Dr William Horsnell, from UCT’s Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine and the Division of Immunology talks to Kieno Kammies about the discovery.

We already know that the transfer of antibodies during breastfeeding is very important and provides transient protection against infection which is one of the biggest ways children are protected from infection in the first two years of life.

Dr William Horsnell, Lead researcher - UCT’s Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine and the Division of Immunology

But what the new research shows is the long-term protection of breast milk.

It programmes the offspring's immune system which gives them long-term protection against infection.

Dr William Horsnell, Lead researcher - UCT’s Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine and the Division of Immunology

This adds a new dimension to understanding how breastfeeding can impact on a child’s health in the long-term.

Listen to Dr Horsnell's explanation of the inspiring research:


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