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Breast Milk - The Best Infant Nutrition
Jaymun was breastfed for the first 13 weeks of his life. The antibodies in his mothers milk protected him from things like CMV. It was very traumatic to stop breastfeeding during his third chemo round (pre-transplant). Our original plan was to have him breastfed at least up to the beginning of transplant conditioning - but we were advised otherwise.
Unfortunately, weaning him backfired - because without his mother's antibodies to protect him, he later contracted CMV from the environment.
The doctors made a tough decision that we deferred to at the time. However, given our later experience, I tend to agree with our original plan. In order to be convinced otherwise, they would have to show that:
the % risk of the mother expressing the CMV in her milk,
lowered by the % risk of the child contracting the disease even if it was expressed,
lowered yet again by the % protection the mothers natural antibodies provide,
was nevertheless a larger risk
...than the child contracting the disease from an environment already proven to be CMV positive (80% of us are).
And even if those risks were equal, that still doesn't even begin to take into consideration the overwhelming body of evidence of other large risks incurred (benefits lost) by early weaning of a child. Although, to be fair, since we were planning a bone marrow transplant, I am not sure how many of those other protections would be kept.
Yet, our own experience with Jaymun backs up my own feelings - my own "comparative risk analysis".
Remember - the closest we came to losing Jaymun up till now was Dec 12/13 - and a good part of the medical "source" of that traumatic crisis is because we weaned him, increasing his risk for CMV (in my opinion :).
And although intestinal components of immunity would be possibly destroyed during chemo, at least breast-feeding Jaymun though the first rounds helped reclaim them. And there are other immune components such as the Thymus which play a vital role in later transplant success ...and breastfeeding direct affects the Thymus - see study:
Decreased thymus size in formula-fed infants compared with breastfed infants.
Human Breast Milk Advantages:
Development [Human milk oligosaccharides. The rule in the health and development of the infants]
Disease protection conferred by breast milk:
Disease Protection (Human milk glycans protect infants against enteric pathogens).
Diarrhea Reduction (Innate protection conferred by fucosylated oligosaccharides of human milk against diarrhea in breastfed infants.)
Breast Milk Effect on Transplants (Renal for example):
Maternal Transplant Success (Breast feeding and maternal-donor renal allografts) (25% improvement)
Sibling Transplant Success (Influence of breast feeding on subsequent reactivity to a related renal allograft.)
Breast Milk Effects on "Immunologically Challenged" patients:
Sepsis Reduction (Human Milk Feedings and Infection Among Very Low Birth Weight Infants )
Decreased Cancer Risks from Breast Milk (during chemo there is a big risk of secondary cancers):
Breast feeding and childhood hematological malignancy
-21% Leukemia Risk (http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/91/20/1765)
Hundreds of other studies about Breast Milk:
Breastmilk Studies Organized