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Mother's milk a gift that keeps on giving
Date:9/14/2007

he population, statistics show that breastfeeding significantly reduces infant mortality. However, in some areas, such as sub-Saharan Africa, the possibility of HIV transmission through breast milk makes the risk-benefit calculation more difficult, the papers authors note.

Certainly in the U.S. at the moment, it would be recommended that an HIV-infected mom not breastfeed, Rassin said. But if you look at a poor sub-Saharan African nation and try to balance off the high risks of a child dying because of a severe gastrointestinal infection from dirty water in formula versus the potential for getting HIV infection from the mom, its a tough call. Probably, you would tend to say breastfeeding would be better in that circumstance than not breastfeeding.

Other risks identified by the authors include an insufficient transfer of breast milk, leading to dehydration and growth failure in the infant; certain vitamin deficiencies such as Vitamin D in human milk; the possibility that allergens consumed by the mother and passed to the nursing infant could cause adverse reactions; the transmission of a serious infection during breastfeeding; the exposure of an infant to certain toxic medications that are excreted in human milk; and rare genetic defects in the infant that prevent the digestion and metabolism of the milk constituents lactose, galactose and phenylalanine.

Except for genetic disorders and some infectious diseases, the authors say, none of these risks absolutely precludes breastfeeding if preventive measures are taken. In particular, Rassin said, making sure new mothers have learned proper breastfeeding technique is critical to ensuring babies get enough breast milk to keep them hydrated and growing. The way we manage newborns now, getting them out of the hospital in 24 or 48 hours, thats not enough time to really get a mom established on breastfeeding, and moms need the appropriate support to begin the behavior, Rassin said. It is a natural b
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Contact: Jim Kelly
jpkelly@utmb.edu
409-772-8791
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Source:Eurekalert

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