Study finds breast milk regulates gut bacteria to prevent food allergies
- United Arab Emirates: Tuesday, October 30 - 2012 at 14:57
- PRESS RELEASE
A new research study has revealed that breast milk helps babies to grow up more resistant to food allergies, by regulating the levels of bacteria in their digestive ecosystem. The main factor is a component of breast milk called oligosaccharides, or HMO for short.
HMO then produces short-chain fatty acids which beneficial bacteria feed on, thus maintaining a healthy population of microbial in the infant's intestines.
While medical experts are still digesting the research findings, the consensus is that in the short run breast milk boosts the baby's immunity against infections by harmful bacteria. In the long run, the baby grows up more resistant to food allergies and other chronic health reactions.
These results have been greeted with enthusiasm by the Sharjah Baby Friendly Emirate Campaign, which has been tirelessly raising awareness all year to nurture a more health-conscious society that is more sensitive to the needs of breastfeeding women.
Executive Committee Director of the Sharjah Baby Friendly Emirate Campaign, Dr Hessa Khalfan Al Ghazal, commented: "The most incredible take-away from this research is that breast milk is not only a healthy food in itself, but also maintains a healthy bacterial environment for digesting other foods. This means even when mothers are introducing new foods to their babies, they can still breastfeed to make that transition smoother, rather than abruptly stopping breastfeeding completely."
The study further unearthed evidence suggesting that babies feeding on artificial milk do not enjoy the same protection or auto-regulatory effect in terms of gut bacteria.
Dr Hessa Khalfan Al Ghazal of the Sharjah Baby Friendly Emirate Campaign elaborated on the implications of the research findings: "As the baby grows older and its digestive patterns change, the breast milk automatically regulates the bacterial levels to maintain a healthy balance that suits the baby's evolving needs. In sharp contrast, artificial milk cannot mimic the same benefits as breast milk. This is because formula promotes different levels of stomach flora in the bacterial ecosystem, which might not be in sync with the baby's digestive needs. We are empowering the Sharjah community with all this information, so that they can make an informed decision that benefits their babies, their families and the wider emirate as a whole."
The Sharjah Baby Friendly Emirate Campaign was initiated in March 2012 under the generous patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Budoor bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), President of the Campaign and Honorary President of the Breastfeeding Friends Association. The campaign encompasses four initiatives: Breastfeeding-Friendly Nurseries, Mother and Baby-Friendly Public Places, Mother-Friendly Workplaces and Baby-Friendly Health Facilities. The campaign is sponsored by Sharjah Islamic Bank.
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