An open-access article published today in JAMA Pediatrics (January 2020) shows that 15% of breastmilk samples from mothers in Uganda with asymptomatic malaria contained malaria antigens. The study’s findings – considered a world first – carry promise for employing breastfeeding as an efficient, natural prevention of this deadly contagious disease.
Each year, over 200 million cases of malaria are reported; most occur in Africa where infants under 5 account for two-thirds of all malaria deaths (World Health Organization, 2018 World Malaria Report.) Hence the acute need to protect children early in life and halt transmission of the disease.
The study was conducted by the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Chair in Human Lactology (FLRF CHL) at The University of Western Australia with support from the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation. Researchers say the preliminary data could be used as a building block for future studies into novel strategies to prevent malaria.