Nursing May Help Fight Infection in Children

Your baby’s breastfeeding backwash may trigger infection fighters and boost the child’s health.


A  post on has stirred new interest in the research being done in the realm of breastfeeding. Strangely enough, some of the most interesting recent science concerns backwash. Now backwash, like popsicle hands and dirty footprints, is nothing new to parents, but the latest studies may show that during the breastfeeding stage it’s actually an important part of a newborn’s developing immune system.

It’s still a theory at this point, but one with quite a bit of research and physical evidence backing it up. For example, It would help explain the somewhat mystical connection between when a child becomes ill and the amount of antibodies found in the mother’s breast milk.

Some of the more interesting pieces of the studies cited by the article:

“Scientists caught the backward flow of milk by watching as milk-associated fat globules moved from near the nipple to farther back in the breast in a 2004 ultrasound study. Although that retro flow hasn’t been directly observed while a baby feeds, it’s likely that the same thing happens during a nursing session. Through this backwash, the baby may be placing an order that helps a mother’s body cook up special-ordered germ-fighting milk, cell biologist Foteini Kakulas (formerly Hassiotou) at the University of Western Australia in Crawley and colleagues believe.”


“In a series of experiments, Kakulas and her colleagues have found that mother’s milk rapidly changes in response to a baby’s infections. Breast milk usually contains a small number of infection-busting cells called leukocytes. When a baby (or a mother) is sick, the numbers of leukocytes in breast milk spike, Kakulas and colleagues reported in 2013 in Clinical and Translational Immunology.”

Clearly, there is still much to learn about the special connection between a mother and her child, but as research develops we’re sure to find ourselves even more amazed at the science behind it.

The original article can be found here.

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