- IgG transfer via the umbilical cord provides the infant with passive immunity.26,27
- Passive immunity from the mother continues via breastfeeding after birth.
- Studies on colostrum samples show IgA antibodies reactive to bacterial antigens. This provides the infant with protection against the invasion of many different microorganisms, including Haemophilus influenzae, Escherichia coli, Vibrio cholerae, S. aureus, Campylobacter, and many more.
- Pathogenic colonisation of a preterm gut (pathogen-predominant microbiota) seems to be the first step in the pathogenesis of late-onset sepsis and NEC in premature infants.28
- Pathogenic colonisation can be reduced by exposure to mother's milk soon after birth (inc. colostrum). This can also increase commensal bacteria, reduce translocation of bacteria*, modulate the infants inflammatory response, and decrease intestinal injury.
- *Bacterial translocation: research suggests specific pathogens colonise the preterm gut before invading the bloodstream.
"The thin, yellow, serous fluid secreted by the mammary glands during pregnancy and immediately postpartum before lactation begins. It consists of immunologically active substances, white blood cells, water, protein, fat, and carbohydrates." - MeSH definition. 25
Why is so important?
A syringe showing a shot of colostrum. As you can see, colostrum is a yellow, serous fluid.
Should mother's who choose not to breastfeed their premature infant, have the right to refuse donated human milk if it is medically advised?