While it is quite possible for a mother to choose between bottle feeding and breastfeeding, health professionals are more likely to advise breastfeeding. This practice has many benefits, and a study has just shown that babies who are breastfed live healthier lives.
Immune cell found abundant in breastfed babies
Breastfeeding is widely associated with better health during infancy and throughout adulthood. Previous research has shown that babies who are breast-fed are less likely to develop asthma, obesity, and autoimmune diseases later in life compared to those who are exclusively formula-fed. . Until now, however, the immunological mechanisms responsible for these effects of breastfeeding are poorly understood.
In study, a team of researchers from the University of Birmingham, UK, and the NHS Foundation Trust in Birmingham have now provided new information on the subject. The study found that breast milk promotes the growth of important immune cells that help manage inflammation. To reach this conclusion, the study examined the immune functions of 38 full-term infants, all of whom were delivered by cesarean section. The infants were separated into two groups based on whether they were breastfed, formula fed, or had received a mixture of the two.
Blood and stool samples were taken at birth and three weeks later. Analysis of these samples revealed a specific type of immune cell called ” regulatory T cells “. Essentially, these cells control the baby’s immune response against maternal cells transferred with breast milk and help reduce inflammation. These cells have been observed to develop during the first three weeks of life in breastfed human babies. They have also been found to be almost twice as abundant in breastfed babies as in formula fed babies.
A study to encourage mothers to breastfeed
Given the results of the study published in the journal Allergy, the researchers hope this will encourage more women to favor breastfeeding. ” Before our research, the exceptional importance and early involvement of this specific cell type in breastfed babies was unknown. “Said Gergely Toldi, lead author of the study, in a statement. « We hope this invaluable new perspective will lead to increased rates of breastfeeding and allow more babies to experience the benefits of breast milk. “, he added.
The researchers also hope that this study will help improve the design of formula milk to have formulas that further promote the development of the newly discovered cell. In addition, the scientists explained that the details regarding the biological mechanism are still unknown. They therefore plan to deepen their research, particularly in premature babies who have developed inflammatory complications and newborns born at term but sick.