In previous generations, many newly born babies were protected from contracting whooping cough in their first weeks by being breast fed by a mother who had had whooping cough as a child. This provided her with a rich supply of antibodies in her milk with which to feed her own baby. It also meant that she wouldn’t get whooping cough during her childbearing years and put her baby at risk. Natural immunity is usually life long.
After the widespread introduction of the DPT vaccine, a lot of children no longer had whooping cough in their early years and instead this was postponed until they went to school or until their teen years. Artificially aquired antibodies wane after a few years, leaving the vaccinated person capable of contracting the disease and this meant that new parents were vulnerable just at the time when they were bringing new life into the world.
Compounding this problem is the fact that the majority of babies are now formula fed. Although a large percentage are breast fed at birth, most are given formula milk before they reach the age of eight weeks. This means that they are denied valuable maternal antibodies that would protect them from complications of whooping cough at a time when the illness carries the most risks.
If your doctor has told you that breast feeding doesn’t protect your baby from infectious diseases including whooping cough, he obviously hasn’t read the research. Breast feeding is the single most important thing you can do for your baby’s health! Research from around the globe shows that breast milk DOES protect against whooping cough.
The Annals of Tropical Pediatrics found that breast milk contained antibodies to whooping cough, Haemophilus Influenzae B, pneumonia and meningitis.
‘Children under 2 years of age are most susceptible to acute respiratory infections caused by Bordetella pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae type b, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Neisseria meningitidis. We analyzed milk samples and sera from mother-infant pairs for specific antibodies that may enhance protection against the bacterial pathogens.