Colostrum, transfer factor and your immune system
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When a baby is born, it has never before been attacked by any bugs - it doesn't have any army troops to help defend it against the invading enemy.
When a baby has not had mother's breast milk, it takes the baby about one month to develop its own immune system. During that month, if the baby gets sick, then some immunity might never develop because the immune system was so overwhelmed by some particular antigen (invading bug) - the immune system can even start thinking that the antigen is a normal thing to have floating around in the bloodstream.
All mothers should understand that they give immunity to their new-born baby by breast feeding.
For years this was understood to be true, but the mechanisms through which this happened were not understood.
Breast feeding and the baby's immune system
When a baby was NOT breast-fed, researchers would find almost ZERO antibodies in the baby. Those antibodies were NOT there. That baby was at risk. When a baby was breast-fed, researchers found the antibodies inside the newborn baby's system, they couldn't deny them. They were there. A newborn baby has no antibodies - but within a few days on breast milk, the baby suddenly has a fully functioning immune system! A miracle.
So, there was much research (1) studying how this breast milk could carry the mother's immune system over to the baby. It was a puzzle for quite some time. The scientists determined that the baby could not get the antibodies themselves from the mother's milk. These antibodies are living cells - protein - and the body would simply use it as food.
Antibodies ingested through the mouth
There is an important technical point here.
When a human ingests living cells, or even dead animal cells, into the body through the mouth, the digestive system treats it all like food. It might be a very valuable living immune system cell, but as far as the baby is concerned, it's only more food to digest.
take these same living cells (even immune system cells) and INJECT them
into a human body, the body treats them like invading bugs. There is a
rejection mechanism which protects the human body from injected living
So, don't think that you can boost your immune system by absorbing the antibodies in the milk - it doesn't work that way.
Antibodies are living cells and the new baby could not possibly get them through the mother's milk which went into the baby's body through the mouth and stomach. That milk DOES have antibodies in it, but they are nothing more than food to the baby. No living cell can possibly pass through the digestive system and get into the body through the mouth and stomach.
The many immune system cells in the mother did not, somehow, get transferred over to the baby. But the baby who got breast fed ended up with immediate immune system cells and the baby who did not get breast fed did not get those cells.
Numerous studies (2,3,4) were done of this problem and finally the researchers identified a 'transfer factor' which was transferred in the mother's milk. This 'transfer factor' was not a cell, it was not a germ, it was something which hadn't really ever been identified before. The researchers would use 'screens' to filter out anything as large as a living cell - and the 'factor' still got through. So, the scientists realized that whatever the 'factor' was, it was smaller than any cell - it probably was a molecule.
Then the researchers found ways to filter out the large molecules, but the 'factor' still got through these screening techniques. That meant it had to be something very small - a small molecule?
It was much too small to see with a microscope. They looked, but couldn't find it.
Finally, rather than give it some fancy new name, researchers just stuck with the word 'factor' to explain this 'thing'.
The transfer factor
They called it the 'transfer factor', this 'thing' in mother's milk which gets transferred from her to the new-born baby and creates INSIDE the baby an entire immune system, almost overnight. It was almost as if, as soon as this transfer factor got into the new baby's body it started manufacturing exactly the type of antibodies which were called for in the transfer factor. The baby's system did this even though there were no invading bugs. So, if one of those bugs entered the baby's body, the baby's immune system was ready even though the baby itself had never personally been attacked by that bug previously.
Now, have you heard of a 'wet nurse'? A wet nurse is a woman who is lactating. She has had a baby and has milk in her breasts. She can take any other baby, not her own, and feed that baby her breast milk. For many years, wealthy women who had just given birth would hire a 'wet nurse' to breast-feed their new-born baby.
This way the wealthy woman didn't have to stay home all day to nurse. When babies were breast-fed by a 'wet nurse', they did NOT get the immune system factors transferred from that wet nurse. Now, there's another puzzle!
Well, by now you might have guessed. 'Regular mother's breast milk' does NOT transfer the immune system to the baby. It is NOT the milk which transfers immunity, but only a special form of mother's milk, called the 'colostrum'.
(1) J Clin Microbiol, 1980 Sep, 12:3, 320-5
(2) Acta Paediatr Scand, 1983 Jan, 72:1, 13-7
(3) NY Academy of Sciences, 409, pp. 848-850.
(4) Moro, I., et al., (1,985), “Natural Killer Cells in Human Colostrum,” Cellular Immunology, 93(2), pp - 467- 474.
2009 Healing Daily
© 2009 Healing Daily