Research shows what parents have known for decades

Maureen MinchinAllergies, Child Health, General News, Immunology, Infant Health, Pregnancy

OK, here’s what’s been in the news.
“Now, Zhang et al. report that infants who later developed food allergy had altered immunity at birth. Cord blood from these infants had more monocytes compared with CD4+ T cells and decreased numbers of regulatory T cells. Moreover, the monocytes from food-allergic infants secreted more inflammatory cytokines than those from healthy infants. These cytokines suppressed interleukin-2 (IL-2) expression by CD4+ T cells and skewed differentiation of these cells to a nonclassical T helper 2 (TH2) phenotype. Anti-inflammatory strategies should therefore be considered in preventing food allergy in these individuals.”

What does it mean? Click on link above to read the abstract; commentary below…

Discovery of the mechanism by which this occurs may eventually be useful; proof that this happens during pregnancy is helpful. BUT this is hardly new to anyone who has been reading my work since 1980, and my books since Food for Thought in 1982. What happens in pregnancy, including food allergen exposure, affects what happens after. So what has affected your mother affects you. So the intergenerational effects of infant feeding are involved in making the next generation allergic. I and innumerable breastfeeding parents have been saying so since the 1980s. To me, this is further proof of my Milk Hypothesis, since infant nutrition is indeed, as key researchers have said, the single most important postnatal influence on lifelong development.

“Anti-inflammatory strategies should therefore be considered in preventing food allergy in these individuals,” says the research. What strategies? Read Milk Matters: infant feeding and immune disorder then think about the choice of foods for babies: breastmilk with its huge range and variety of anti-inflammatory and repair factors, and formula, with its huge range of pro-inflammatory factors, from the advanced glycation end products produced by heat to the alien proteins and fats, to the unnatural industrially-made carbohydrates, the additives with traces of extracting chemicals…… and its absence of those modulating factors in breastmilk. What choice would any intelligent parent make if they possibly could? Should parents of very young infants have to make a choice between normal food and industrial substitutes,  or should they ALL be enabled to breastfeed by changes in societal structures and attitudes, with breastmilk available for mothers who genuinely can’t provide enough milk? Should mothers providing anti-inflammatory food for infants  be rewarded for so doing?

ALL babies not breastfed are being exposed to pro-inflammatory pressures that result in – guess what – the range of western epidemics with their roots in inflammation, from CVD to auto-immune disease. SOME of those babies are lucky in their genetic inheritance and escape those consequences, though their children probably won’t, as they gestate the next generation, and as these researchers are discovering, immune changes happen in utero.. But ALL babies not breastfed are at needless risk. And ALL formula-feeding mothers and babies miss out on normal female/mammalian experience which can make both mothering and  thriving pleasurable.

It is ignorance of these basic biological facts about formula and breastmilk which allows formula advocates to fantasize that it doesn’t matter whether you formula feed so long as you have a clean water supply, are literate and take care. I will write a post soon addressing Courtney Jung’s latest ten point piffle. Meanwhile, please share this post.