Breast milk feeding proponents now have additional scientific proof to further their cause. 

A team of scientists managed to find out that sugars present in breast milk could help keep newborns safe from a variety of infections, reports The team identified that a group of bacteria called group B Streptococcus (GBS), known to cause meningitis, blood infections, and even stillbirth in newborns, can be countered by breast milk sugars. 

The sugars in question are called oligosaccharides or HMOs, shown to prevent the aforementioned illnesses in human cells and mice tissues. With this discovery, there is hope that HMOs would be able to replace antibiotics when it comes to treating infections in babies and adults in the future. 

GBS infections are a widespread reality in newborns in the United States. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 930 babies get early-onset GBS, and 1,050 develop late-onset GBS in the US every year. The risk of developing GBS also increases if the mother tests positive for it during her pregnancy. Lastly, 2 to 3 in every 50 babies who develop a GBS infection won't survive. 

In lab tests, mixtures of the HMOs have shown antimicrobial properties against a GBS infection. According to Vanderbilt University graduate student Rebecca Moore, the team wants to bring their current in-vitro studies to see if the HMOs will effectively prevent cellular and tissue infections in pregnant women and mice. 

If the team succeeds in proving the effectiveness of these breast milk HMOs, it will open up a whole new avenue for breastfeeding proponents to push their cause forward. 

Read also: Breastfeeding Linked To Genetic Mutation That Helped Ancient Native Americans, East Asians Survive Ice Age

Breast Milk Feeding's Current State

Breast milk and breastfeeding as a whole still divides a lot of mothers, especially American ones. In an article by TIME Magazine, it was revealed that the concept can be so finicky that entire families could be jeopardized just because of differing stances on the matter. 

Still, one can't really discount the real benefits of giving breast milk to infants. While it's already been debunked that breastfeeding doesn't necessarily make a kid smarter, breast milk should still be considered because it provides long-term health benefits. Breast-fed children have been shown to have a lower risk of being obese and developing asthma, among other things. 

And it's not just the babies who can reap the benefits, but their mothers too. Breast milk feeding can, in several circumstances, save moms from developing serious illnesses and premature death.

What About Breastfeeding and COVID Vaccines? 

During the pandemic, many mothers have asked if getting a COVID vaccine affects the quality of their breast milk. While the short answer is no, the long answer is, "not really." The WHO, alongside with the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, said that while the vaccines pose no harm to these women, there's not much data supporting the claim. 

Related: Antibiotics Can Reduce Breastfeeding Benefits In Babies: Study

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Written by RJ Pierce 

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