Mothers give their babies immunity to viral illnesses through breast milk and if a baby is sick the mother produces much more immune cells for the baby. In one study the breast milk of mothers with sick babies had a four- to five-fold increase in the total number of white blood cells – which help protect against viral and bacterial infections – compared to the healthy control mothers. Apparently there is an unknown feedback mechanism from the baby to the mother. When the baby is sick the mother’s body somehow knows it and begins to create more immune-fighting chemicals for the baby.
ABC Science Online News in Science 12/06/2003 Breastmilk gives babies weapons against viruses.
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