Researchers out of Duke University have made an exciting new discovery. After studying a group of HIV positive women in Malawi, they've identified antibodies generated from the B cells in breast milk that may act as a vaccine of sorts for infants getting breast milk from their mothers.
For years, developing nations have faced a difficult quandry: breast milk is best for infants, especially in areas where the water supply is not safe, however, in areas with a high rate of HIV infection, there is a significant risk of passing the deadly virus on to infants through breast milk. Even in HIV+ women, however, only about 10% of babies contract the virus.
Now, researchers know that the 90% of babies who escape infection have most likely been protected by this newly identified antibody. Hopefully, with further research, this antibody could open new avenues in HIV research, potentially a vaccine that would work to prevent adult-to-adult trasmission as well.
This is good news for women and infants for so many reasons. An HIV vaccine would save so many lives, and breastfeeding could mean the difference between life and death for infants without access to a healthy water supply.
We've known about the benefits of breast milk for years. If you've recently lost a baby, through stillbirth or death in the early weeks or months of life, you may be wondering what to do with your personal supply of breast milk. Women are finding comfort in donating their milk to help care of sick and premature infants, even though their own babies have died.
To learn more about coping with lactation after a pregnancy loss, and find more helpful information on donating or selling breast milk you may have stored, please see:
Lactation and Pregnancy Loss
FAQs About Donating and Selling Breast Milk
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