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immunological benefits of bf - a question

(7 Posts)
Moulesfrites Wed 15-Jun-11 20:05:38

My ds is 20 weeks and ebf. I now plan on doing it for a year until I go back to work, but he will be going into nursery for 2 days a week then, and I am am dreading it having seen friends' children be completely floored for a couple of months after starting nursery by all the bugs they picked up.

If I were to carry on bf ds at this point, is it likely to make any difference to him picking stuff up or is this inevitable? I suppose what i am asking is do I need to be bf at the time he comes into contact with the bugs for bf's immunological benefits to kick in, or will he already have had the benefits having been bf for a year? I hope that makes sense!!

japhrimel Wed 15-Jun-11 20:08:10

I think he will have had most of the benefit - plus unless you catch the bugs from him, you won't be necessarily be making the antibodies for the bug of the week that's going round nursery. I think some of the immediate effect immune benefits are lessened when you're apart a lot so he's exposed to bugs you won't get at all.

Hopefully someone will be along with some hard science on this!

MovingAndScared Wed 15-Jun-11 20:15:32

I honestly think it is inevitable - its actually good for them to get lots of bugs -- - its just a problem if you have to take lots of time off work - so make sure you and your OH have AL saved up and maybe get some back childcare planned

Beveridge Wed 15-Jun-11 20:25:37

DD was 16 months when she caught her first sickness bug and she had been at nursery since she was 9 months - that's proof enough for me that bfing stops them catching things even if you aren't with them all the time!

Seriously though, I seem to recall reading (Politics of Breastfeeding, I think)that your body is constantly scanning the horizon for new bugs/viruses and puts antibodies in your milk even if you do not show any symptoms. So even though they're at nursery without you during the day, you obviously have them home with you at night so your immune system will be reacting to what is floating about their system.

And even if you don't stop them actually catching something, sucking for comfort and taking in breastmilk really helps them bounce back IME - DD was floored for less than 24 hours with the aforementioned bug, did lots of feeding/spewing/feeding/spewing and shook it off no bother (same can't be said for me and DH who got it a few days later). I would imagine the antibodies you did manage to produce would have an effect on the severity of an illness too even if your DC got it before you?

Plus some children refuse water, juice or cow's milk when ill but it's unlikely they'll refuse a bf, thus avoiding dehydration.

RitaMorgan Wed 15-Jun-11 20:25:40

My breastfed baby is in nursery and is ill all the time I'm afraid.

AngelDog Wed 15-Jun-11 20:45:30

He will benefit, although not as much as if you were at nursery with him.

Pathogens are passed from the baby to the mother via the breast (as well as by other means eg you kissing them), and then your body makes antibodies which you then pass back to him via your milk. But obviously it takes a little while for that to happen, so he'll be dealing with the pathogens in the mean time. If you're together, you don't have to wait for him to pass pathogens to you: you get them from the environment and then make antibodies.

However, the immunological benefits are cumulative as well as related to the germs you're exposed to at that time. IIRC the gland (or organ) which controls the develompent of the child's own immune system is larger and better developed in bf babies, and more so the longer they are bf. But I can't remember where I read that, so I'm afraid I can't give you more details.

As Beveridge says, bf is good for helping children recover. On the couple of occasions that my 18 m.o. has been properly ill, bf has been wonderful. He's been off his food so it's been good to know he's getting nourishment, and bf really helps with pain relief too. Great for teething as well as illness! smile

Yesmynameis Thu 16-Jun-11 12:50:15

I want to carry on bf my dd when she goes to nursery at 13 months for this reason. I'm sure she will pick things up and fall ill, but at least I'll know I'm doing all I can to prevent this with the tools at my disposal!
Plus I hope bf in the evening will be a way for us to reconnect, for her benefit and mine.

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