Colostrum at birth to prevent parasitic worms

  • News
  • 13 Feb. 2024
240213 LRF CIBF Team UWA Crop (1)

Millions of lives could be saved by the first drops of breastmilk, known as colostrum

Produced in the first three days of life, colostrum not only massively reduces neonatal mortality, but also actively promotes the development of infant immunity, which can help children fight off deadly parasitic worms that infect 25% of the world's population.

This is the news from a study just published in the journal Allergy (‘Colostrum is required for the postnatal ontogeny of small intestine innate lymphoid type 2 cells and successful anti-helminth defences’). Read the details here.

The international collaborative study was led by Professor Valerie Verhasselt, Director of the Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Centre for Immunology and Breastfeeding at the University of Western Australia. It shows that feeding colostrum within the first hour of life can reduce a child's risk of contracting a helminth infection months to years later from contaminated soil, which is common in many low- and middle-income regions. Infected children are nutritionally and physically impaired with dramatic life-long consequences.

As the research team works to uncover the protective benefits of colostrum, they aim to increase the number of newborns – currently less than half worldwide – who receive colostrum. Learn more about their work here.

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