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The Financial Express

Natural shield for infant

| Updated: October 20, 2017 23:18:48


Natural shield for infant
You take your baby to the pediatrician for regular check-ups, vaccines and at the first sign of a fever. You keep her away from running-nose friends and keep clear of the sun. You baby-proof your home and gently bandage her boo-boos. All to make sure that your child grows up healthy and strong. But new research shows that the strength of your baby may well trump all the other measures you take to help her thrive. Feed your infant breast milk which provides more than just good nutrition and protects your child. Breast milk is packed with disease-fighting substances that protect your baby from falling sick.  
It has long been known that breast milk is vital to the health of young babies. Breast milk contains a wide variety of proteins that enrich its qualities. Many of these proteins are easy to digest and provide a well-balanced source of amino acids for rapidly growing infants. Lactoferrin is one of them. For centuries, breast-fed children have benefited from an additional layer of protection against disease during the crucial first months of life. 
This year the British scientists have found that an antibiotic developed from breast milk could combat certain drug-resistant bacteria. The breakthrough, by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and University College London, found that the minuscule fragment, less than a nanometre in width, is responsible for providing the protein its anti-microbial properties. This is what makes breast milk so important for infants. 
The protein, called lactoferrin, effectively kills bacteria, fungi and even viruses on contact. Scientists have known about lactoferrin since the 1960s, but it is only now that they have honed in on the properties of the protein. In this case, lactoferrin is more than just another antibiotic for superbugs to overcome. Because lactoferrin works so fast, it kills the bacteria in a fraction of a second and could be used to treat genetic diseases that were previously incurable, such as sickle cell anemia. Experts hope that superbugs simply will not have time to develop resistance to it. 
As more and more cases of antibiotic resistance occur all over the world, experts are looking for the most effective ways to take down superbugs. Last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of the alarming surge of antibiotic-resistant superbug's crisis. The WHO said people are confused about the role of antibiotics and the correct way to take them. The misuse of antibiotics has thus spurred the development of drug-resistant superbugs. 
The challenge was not just to see the capsules, but to follow their attack on bacterial membranes. The discovery gives new hope for the fight against superbugs. It is hoped that the discovery could help boost the fight against the growing issue of antibiotic resistance and even be used to tackle previously incurable diseases such as sickle-cell disease as mentioned earlier. 
This discovery of antibiotic from breast milk will be reducing antibiotic resistance. So, the mothers now have a chance to add a second layer protection for their children by feeding breast milk. That means mothers carry a strong powerful antibiotic as breast milk in their body naturally. 
Breast milk confers unique nutritional and non-nutritional benefits to an infant and the mother in turn, can optimize infant, child, and adult health as well as child growth and development. 
Women who choose not to breastfeed, should learn about the impact of breast-milk and also should encourage others about breastfeeding. Infant feeding should not be considered a lifestyle choice but rather a basic health issue. 
The writer is a nutritionist.
 

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