Breast milk 'can reduce infection risk for premature babies'

28 July 2016

A protein found in breast milk has been shown to help reduce the likelihood of infections among prematurely-born babies.

The University of Missouri School of Medicine research studied the immune systems of 120 premature infants, 60 of whom received lactoferrin via a feeding tube twice a day for 28 days to simulate receiving breast milk while nursing.

After examining the faecal matter of these infants, it was found that the germs responsible for the colonisation of staph infections were virtually eliminated among newborns who received lactoferrin.

This is a potentially significant findings, as these germs are the most common cause of in-hospital bloodstream infections in premature babies, causing up to 50 percent of infections.

Based on these findings, it was theorised that lactoferrin can affect the development of protective intestinal bacteria by modifying germs in the bowel of infants, thereby creating beneficial effects.

Dr Michael Sherman, professor emeritus in the department of child health at the University of Missouri school of medicine, said: "These vulnerable babies need all the support they can get to fight off infections. Our results justify the need for a large-scale trial of lactoferrin, as well as its counterpart derived from cow milk, bovine lactoferrin."

Posted by Jeanette Royston

 


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