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More Evidence that Breast-Feeding Protects Babies

Volume 351, Number 9110
18 April 1998

'The full characterisation of such molecules could make possible a novel class of therapeutic agents suitable for oral supplementation' Lactadherin, a human-milk glycoconjugate, has been found to protect babies from the symptoms of rotavirus infection. Rotavirus is the commonest cause of diarrhoea in the world in infants and young children. David Newburg and colleagues studied 200 infants in Mexico City from birth by monitoring their stools for the presence of rotavirus. Milk samples from breast-feeding mothers were analysed weekly until 4 weeks post partum, then monthly. Those samples taken just before the infant had rotavirus infection were assayed for a collection of substances, including lactadherin, which was found to have the highest antirotavirus activity. Importantly, the protective effect of lactadherin was independent of products of the secretory immune system. The investigators suggest that milk glycoproteins such as lactadherin could form the basis of therapeutic agents suitable for oral supplementation.

updated: 23 April, 2014