As a neonatal nurse specialist, mothers often ask me about the antibodies found in breast milk and how they can work to protect their babies. To explain it to them, and to you, I have to delve into immunology, and those conversations are usually too technical for most readers and mothers I meet in the NICU. Unfortunately, the information that is readily available to mothers that isn’t highly technical is a large body of conflicting information. So I’m here to talk more about this very important topic in a way that makes it straightforward! My goal is to answer very common reader questions like these:
“Why does my infant need any vaccines at all since she’s getting all the antibodies she needs from my breast milk?” and,
“Why does my seven-month old son need to get a flu shot if I received it during my pregnancy?”
Both, excellent questions! Parents, take note – there are 2 ways babies acquire immunity: through passive transfer, and active transfer (also known as acquired immunity).