Breathing, Feeding, and Neuroprotection

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When it comes to feeding the newborn, human milk is, from an evolutionary perspective, the biological norm, the time-tested standard of care. The health benefits to the infant of breast-feeding have been amply documented; numerous studies strongly indicate significantly decreased risks of infection, allergy, asthma, arthritis, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and various cancers in both childhood and adulthood. Throughout primate evolution and pre-industrial human history, breastfeeding was the rule: According to nutritional anthropologist Daniel W.

This pattern was probably the norm for , years of human evolution and some 7 million years of nonhuman primate evolution. A radical change occurred in the late s, with the widespread relocation of rural populations to urban areas resulting in lifestyle and socio-cultural changes that disrupted the normal breastfeeding pattern. Wolf described how large numbers of women in all echelons of European and U. Some avoided breastfeeding altogether, and those who did breastfeed increasingly weaned their babies before 3 months of age.

Then, in the early s, U. In Chicago, for example, nearly 1 in 5 babies died before their first birthday, mainly from diarrhea, and for every breastfed baby that died there were 15 deaths from hand feeding. As part of a public health campaign to lower infant mortality, posters were mounted throughout U. Despite continued warnings by public health officials on the hazards of artificial feeding, efforts to educate new and expecting mothers waned.

At the same time, more women began having their babies in hospitals rather than at home. Mothers and infants increasingly were separated as a matter of course after delivery, due to the rising use of anesthesia during labor, among other factors. Prolonged separation after birth can make it more difficult to establish breastfeeding; a Japanese study published by Nakao et al.

Today, the prevalence of initial breastfeeding among U. Figures in the February issue of Public Health Nutrition point to wide variation across the few European countries for which breastfeeding data are available. Meanwhile, in many developing countries, the length of time babies are completely breastfed remains low. For example, in African countries about one-quarter of mothers exclusively breastfeed for 6 months, according to WHO figures. Yet a study reported by Edmond et al.

Contaminants in Human Milk: Weighing the Risks against the Benefits of Breastfeeding

Maternal employment can be a major limiting factor in terms of breastfeeding duration. A study by Joan Y. In the years since that study was published, numerous employers have established lactation rooms and breastfeeding-supportive workplace policies, and such efforts appear to be paying off. One of the features unique to primate infants is slow early development of the immune system, during which time energy and nutrients are devoted to the growth and development of other systems such as the central nervous and musculoskeletal systems.


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By preventing inflammation, he adds, the integrity of the digestive and respiratory systems is preserved to ensure normal nutrition, growth, and functioning overall. The composition of human milk undergoes remarkable quantitative changes as lactation proceeds, many of which track with changes in the developmental status of the infant. Indeed, says Goldman, the effects of the immune system in human milk last for as long as the infant is breast-feeding and possibly beyond weaning. Special properties of human milk.

Clin Pediatr Phila 35 6: Among the more intriguing immune connections that have come to light is the so-called enteromammaric link. A surge of knowledge about the immune system that began in the s would eventually culminate in a radical reframing of the biological role of human milk. In volume 15, issue 4—5 of the International Archives of Allergy and Applied Immunology , Hanson coauthored a report describing antibodies in human milk that were active against many enteric bacteria and viruses.

Two years later, Hanson isolated secretory immunoglobulin A SIgA , the dominant immunoglobulin in the human body. Recent research indicates that this milk-mediated protection extends far beyond enteric and respiratory infections to bacterial sepsis, meningitis, urinary tract infections, necrotizing enterocolitis, ear infections, and allergic dermatitis.


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The immunoregulatory and anti-inflammatory agents provided by human milk may also decrease the risks of developing various diseases long after weaning. These include certain inflammatory disorders such as asthma, dermatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers, as well as obesity and other health problems.

And in a meta-analysis by Owen et al. The benefits of human milk for human infants are undeniable. But what happens when the nursing infant is exposed to contaminants in human milk? The number of such contaminants is unknown, but the extent of their presence is rapidly growing. Given the potential risks posed by the presence of these toxicants, is there any evidence that the bioactive components of human milk may somehow compensate for these milk-borne pollutants and other toxicants to which a child is exposed?

Breastfed infants are considered to be at the very top of the food chain for the simple reason that their source of nourishment is other humans, who are already at the top of the food chain. Breastfeeding infants are thus the final target of POPs. In DDT became the first environmental pollutant found in human milk.

Since then, DDT and its metabolites have been reported in essentially all human milk tested worldwide. In recent years, additional chemicals have been detected in human milk, among them bisphenol A, polybrominated diphenyl ethers PBDEs , hexachlorobenzene, and the cyclodiene pesticides, which include dieldrin, heptachlor, and chlordane.

Benefits Of Bacteria For The Immune System

Thus, a woman with a higher body mass index BMI , which reflects adiposity, will tend to accumulate more chemicals in her body than her leaner counterparts, even if she has the same serum concentration of that chemical or received the same chemical dosage. Yet, the literature to date supports the idea that the benefits of breastfeeding generally outweigh the hazards posed by infant exposure to POPs in human milk. Most of the data derive from six human cohort studies that have examined the effects of PCBs in human breast milk.

Whereas exposures in utero may have significant adverse effects on infant development, these studies have suggested that breastfeeding exposures do not. However, several of these studies have indicated that PCBs in human milk can attenuate the developmental benefits of breastfeeding, although not in a statistically significant fashion after controlling for other factors in child development such as parental influence and home environment.

He says very few data exist on long-term effects of such exposures or on synergistic interactions among chemicals in human milk. In her October review, Jorissen offered this conclusion: To date, the majority of studies conclude that despite substantially higher PCB loads among breastfed infants, breastfeeding is still preferable to formula feeding.

These chemicals are found at higher concentrations in fatty foods such as red meat, dairy products, and fish. Some of the highest levels of contaminants are seen among women in remote northern areas, such as the Canadian Inuit, who eat a diet rich in seal, whale, and other fatty marine species high on the food chain. Meat eaters in general tend to harbor more POPs than people eating predominantly vegetarian diets. Lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and other potentially toxic metals that are dispersed throughout the environment also have bioaccumulative features and thus are of concern to the nursing infant.

The presence of lead and mercury in human milk has been extensively studied.


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Donangelo in the June issue of Clinical Nutrition. Nonetheless, breast-feeding-mediated exposures to lead and mercury are extremely common. Although numerous studies have found a positive association between breast-feeding and improved cognition, some studies have suggested that exclusive breastfeeding beyond 8 or 9 months might result in lower cognitive scores; harmful substances in human milk and nutritional limitations posed by lack of supplemental feeding e. In one of the most recent of these studies, conducted at the University of Michigan Center for Human Growth and Development, infants breastfed less than 2 months showed poor neurodevelopmental scores, but infants breastfed exclusively beyond 8 months also showed a decline.

Homma, Ikuo [WorldCat Identities]

Breastfeeding may also indirectly affect the metabolism of mercury in exposed infants by increasing elimination of the toxic metal. One component of human milk that could account for its ability to potentially buffer the nursling from the harmful effects of environmental toxicants is whey protein. This helps explain the common experimental finding that tumor prevention by dietary whey protein is accompanied by increased glutathione levels in serum and tissues as well as enhanced immunologic activity.

Since then, it has been held every three years in various countries to exchange ideas and learn the latest findings on the control of respiration. The XIth Oxford Conference will focus on respiratory control, especially on the topics of respiratory rhythm generation and chemoreception.

Human Milk: Its Own Immune System

Clinical research on sleep apnea syndrome will also be an important subject at the meeting. Breathing, feeding, and neuroprotection by Ikuo Homma 12 editions published in in English and held by WorldCat member libraries worldwide Focuses on the fields of breathing, neuroprotection, and higher brain functions. This book looks at where and how respiratory rhythm is generated in the brainstem. Transmitters and modulators in health and disease: Comprising investigations in several areas of neuroscience, the book includes research in neurodegenerative diseases and in neuroregeneration in adults.

Described here are the effects of neuropeptides and biogenic amines on feeding, respiration, and other autonomic functions as well as on behavior. One chapter focuses on regulation of the blood brain barrier function by various neuropeptides, proteins, receptors, and transporters. Another is concerned with the modulation of higher brain functions by neuropeptides and biogenic monoamines. Yet another chapter presents research on ischemic neuronal damage and hippocampal neurogenesis in the adult mouse.

Morphological or physiological techniques to study neuropeptides and neuromodulators influencing higher-order or brain-stem functions are given particular attention. The use of bio-imaging tools such as brain navigation systems and fMRIs with patients in a clinical setting creates new possibilities for investigation of human brain function and specialization of treatment. Rehabilitation of the patient with respiratory disease by Neil S Cherniack Book 7 editions published in in English and held by WorldCat member libraries worldwide.

Breathing, Feeding, and Neuroprotection by Ikuo Homma 1 edition published in in English and held by 5 WorldCat member libraries worldwide.