Breast milk's anti-viral effect 'could protect against Aids virus'
08:25 GMT, 15 June 2012
Another breast feeding plus: Milk can block oral transmission of HIV
Breast milk may protect children against the Aids virus, research suggests.
Tests on mice infected with HIV showed that even though some of their offspring acquired the virus from breastfeeding, the mothers milk also had a strong anti-viral effect.
Most of the at-risk breastfed infants did not end up with HIV despite long and repeated exposure.
Study leader Dr Victor Garcia, from
the University of North Carolina in the US, said: 'This study provides
significant insight into the amazing ability of breast milk to destroy
HIV and prevent its transmission.
'No child should ever be infected
with HIV because it is breastfed. Breastfeeding provides critical
nutrition and protection from other infections, especially where clean
water for infant formula is scarce.
'Understanding how HIV is transmitted
to infants and children despite the protective effects of milk will
help us close this important door to the spread of Aids.'
Scientists carried out a study of genetically modified 'humanised' mice that can acquire HIV in the same way as humans.
When the mice were given the virus in human breast milk, they were not infected.
The findings are published in the online journal Public Library of Science Pathogens.
Lead author Dr Angela Wahl, said: 'These results are highly significant because they show that braest milk can completely block oral transmisision of both forms of HIV that are found in the breast milk of HIV- infected mothers: virus particles and virus-infected cells.
'This refutes the 'Trojan horse' hypothesis which says that HIV in cells is more stubborn against the body's own innate defenses than HIV in virus particles.'