Friday, March 30, 2007

Breast-Feeding Helps Shield Babies From HIV

(HealthDay News) -- By breast-feeding only, HIV-positive mothers reduce the risk of postnatal HIV infection in their babies, South African researchers report.

The study, published in the March 31 issue of The Lancet, also found that early introduction of animal milk and solid foods while breast-feeding increases the risk that infants will be infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The findings suggest that current World Health Organization, UNICEF and UNAIDS infant-feeding guidelines need to be revised, said researchers from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
They found that infants of HIV-positive mothers who received formula milk in addition to breast milk were nearly twice as likely to be infected by HIV as infants who received breast milk only. The addition of solid foods increased the risk of HIV infection in the infants 11-fold.
The death rate at three months for babies who were fed animal milk or solid foods was more than double that of babies who received breast milk only, the researchers found.

"The key finding of our study is the definite demonstration that early introduction of solid foods and animal milks increases HIV transmission risks compared with exclusive breast-feeding from birth. These data, together with evidence that exclusive breast-feeding can be supported in HIV-infected women (and uninfected women), warrant revision of the present UNICEF, WHO, and UNICEF infant feeding guidelines that were revised in 2000," the study authors wrote.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has more about HIV infection in infants and children.

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