Mother Nature is not only magical but punctual as well.
Minutes after giving birth, a new mother is producing nutrients for the newborn. The first milk, called colostrum, is less than appetizing: thick and yellow rather than milky white. Some women in Africa are warned that it may cause illness and therefore throw it out with the trash.
Bad idea. Colostrum is rich in growth factors, antimicrobial substances and other nutrients.
These microbiota are teeming with lactic acid bacteria, which may be vital to the infant. And as we know, the first exposure lays a template for future health.
A recent study on piglets confirmed the density of probiotics in colostrum.
Pigs aren’t superstitious; they lap it up. Only humans mess with nature’s perfect plan. By foregoing colostrum, humans rob their newborns of valuable microbes, their mother’s bacteria which are invaluable in the world they will greet.
Deprived of the first milk, babies lose a valuable inheritance, an arsenal against disease.
Breast-fed infants host different bacteria in their guts than that of formula-fed infants. The first field microbiota in which bifidobacteria and lactobacillus predominate whereas in the latter, coliforms, enterococci, and bacteroides predominate. Colostrum and milk also contain antibodies, growth factors and a rich stew of bioactive components. If the child has had a good course of exclusive breastfeeding, the gut bacteria will resist in at least two ways: by preventing colonization by harmful bacteria and by boosting the immune system.
In addition, milk volume can be reduced if nursing begins days after colostrum wanes.
Trouble is that worried mothers will give infants water to prevent dehydration. This water is often dirty and can lead to diarrhea, which can become deadly.
In Africa, where newborns are often exposed to bad bacteria, exclusive breastfeeding is paramount. It is a lifesaver. Colostrum is a gift, protecting infants from infections which can kill them.
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