Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

HIV study prompts call for revision of breastfeeding guidelines

30.03.2007
A study by scientists at the Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, South Africa, has shown that exclusive breastfeeding can significantly reduce the risk of HIV transmission from mother to child in infants aged under six months when compared to those also given solid foods or replacement feed (i.e. formula milk). The research, published today in The Lancet, has implications for people in resource poor settings, such as in rural Africa.

In the study, funded by the UK's Wellcome Trust, researchers at the Africa Centre, University of KwaZulu-Natal, found that there was a 4% risk of postnatal transmission to infants solely fed on breast milk between the age of 6 weeks and 6 months of age. Infants who received formula milk or animal milk in addition to breast milk were nearly twice as likely to be infected as infants who received breast milk only. More alarmingly, those given solids in addition to breast milk were almost eleven times more likely to acquire infection.

"The question of whether or not to breastfeed is not a straightforward one," says Professor Hoosen Coovadia from the Africa Centre. "We know that breastfeeding carries with it a risk of transmitting HIV infection from mother to child, but breastfeeding remains a key intervention to reduce mortality. In many areas of Africa where poverty is endemic, replacement feed, such as formula milk or animal milk, is expensive and cannot act as a complete substitute. The key is to find ways of making breastfeeding safe."

In the developed world, the risk of transmission of HIV from mother to child has been dramatically reduced from about 25% to less than 2% thanks to the use of antiretroviral therapies, exclusive formula feeding regimes and excellent healthcare systems, but these are not available in resource-poor areas.

The mucous membrane within the intestine is thought to act as an effective barrier to HIV infection. Breast milk ordinarily strengthens and protects this lining. Exclusive breastfeeding is also associated with fewer breast health problems such as mastitis and breast abscesses, both of which can increase the amount of the HIV virus in the mother's breastmilk. It is unclear why adding solids may be particularly hazardous, though previous research has suggested that the larger, more complex proteins found in solid foods may lead to greater damage to the lining of the stomach, allowing the virus to pass through the gut wall.

Professor Coovadia and colleagues also found a significant increase in the risk of transmission even amongst exclusively breastfed infants when the mother had a CD4 cell count of less than 200/ml. CD4 cells coordinate the immune systems response to infection. Compared to mothers with a CD4 cell count of 500/ml, mothers with a CD4 count of less than 200/ml were almost twice as likely to infect their infants.

In addition to studying the risks of transmission, trained lay workers offered counselling to HIV-infected mothers to improve exclusive breastfeeding practices. As a result, they were able to achieve a much higher rate of exclusive breastfeeding than previously reported in similar communities.

The validity and importance of the results have been strengthened by other recently published and ongoing studies in Africa which confirm the team's findings about reduced transmission of HIV with exclusive breastfeeding, and the dangers to infant health and survival when replacement feeding deprives babies of the protective shield of breast milk.

"Based on our findings and evidence of being able to successfully support exclusive breastfeeding in HIV-infected women, and recent data from other parts of Africa, we believe that current guidelines on infant feeding warrant revising," says Professor Coovadia. "Previous reports have confused rather than guided such policies and we hope that our study will help clarify this complex issue."

Craig Brierley | alfa
Further information:
http://www.wellcome.ac.uk

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>