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HIV & Breastfeeding
09:29 (GMT+2), Fri, 26 October 2012
According to a recent study published in the online edition of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, certain bioactive components found in mother’s milk are associated with a reduced risk of HIV transmission from an HIV-infected mother to her breast-fed baby.
The researchers discovered that while breastfeeding exposes the baby to the HIV virus and increase the risk of the baby dying from HIV complications, not breastfeeding increases the risk of a baby dying from other intestinal or respiratory infections.
The study found that the vast majority of breast-fed babies don’t contract HIV, although their mothers are not on antiretroviral drugs, because human milk oligosaccharides (a type of carbohydrate made up of several simple sugars linked together) may protect babies against HIV transmission.
Sister Lilian shares her advice on breastfeeding when you are HIV positive:
HIV infected moms worry about HIV and other infections being passed to their baby through breast milk. However, the latest protocol advocated by the World Health Organisation and our own National Department of Health is that exclusive breastfeeding while mom and her baby are on ARV treatment or prophylaxis should be strongly encouraged and is the safest option.
While transmission is negligible under these circumstances, giving baby supplementary feeds and other foods while breastfeeding should be avoided and the baby should be weaned off breast milk immediately to prevent HIV transmission. Breastfeeding, HIV, Sister Lilian