"We certainly did not anticipate that children who were already infected with HIV before weaning would have significantly worse outcomes if they were to forego breast milk, especially since, theoretically, formula and weaning cereal are nutritionally replete," said Louise Kuhn, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health and in the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University. "Our observation of a clear benefit of breast- feeding for HIV-infected children highlights the importance of strengthening infant diagnostic services to triage infected children into HIV care and treatment and to provide encouragement for continued breast-feeding of infected children."
Prior to this latest research it was believed that in many poor countries, mothers with HIV face a stark choice -- to nurse their infants, and risk passing on HIV through their breast milk or to formula feed, and deprive their infants of much of the natural immunity needed to protect against fatal diseases of early infancy. "In the developed world, mothers with HIV forego breast-feeding and formula feed their infants," said Lynne Mofenson, MD, chief of NIH's National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's Pediatric, Adolescent and Maternal AIDS Branch (NICHD), which provided support for the study. "But in many poor countries, there are barriers to formula feeding. Sanitation is lacking, clean water to mix formula is often not available, and many families have difficulty affording infant formula." Formula fed infants also miss out on protective antibodies passed on through breast milk needed to ward off the deadly infant diseases prevalent in many parts of the world. Formula feeding, also, may carry a social stigma for mothers and is often seen as
|Contact: Stephanie Berger|
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health