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Inhibitory effect of breast milk on infectivity of live oral rotavirus vaccines.
Before the arrival of free market practices in the USSR, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic, and Hungary required a prescription for infant formula. Since 1977, Papua New Guinea requires "that baby feeding bottles, teats (nipples) and dummies (pacifiers) be sold at registered pharmacies and obtained only through medical prescription. Said prescription 'cannot be given unless the authorized health worker is satisfied that it would be in the best interest of the baby or infant.' The law was amended in 1984 to empower the Minister of Health to proscribe any feeding article considered hazardous to the health and well-being of infants (email communication, James Akre, Nutrition Unit, WHO, Geneva 12/12/95)." To encourage breastfeeding, China banned all artificial baby milk advertisements, giveaways, money and/or information to clinics and hospitals. The law effective October 1, 1995, also bans the distribution of free or discounted artificial baby milk to mothers (AP 7/4/95). In January 1996, the ministry of commerce in Saudi Arabia announced a blanket ban on all advertisement for breast milk substitutes.
The CDC researchers began their investigation by searching for answers as to why children from underdeveloped countries typically do not respond as well to the live oral rotavirus vaccine as children in developed countries typically do.
They came to the conclusion that breastmilk, which is packed with,
immune-building immunoglobulin A (IgA)
...and various other important immune factors, inhibits the vaccine from working.
Breastmilk, of course, is a young child's lifeline. It naturally builds immunity during childhood development, and provides perfect and balanced nutrition necessary for human growth.
Withholding breastmilk in order to accommodate the rotavirus vaccine, as the CDC researchers suggest, is an absolutely insane notion that will deprive children of vital nutrition and proper immune development.
But it is ludicrous notions like these that are birthed from philosophies that view drugs and vaccines as being equal, or even superior, to natural food. Oral rotavirus vaccines contain live viruses, they have questionable efficacy to begin with, and they are even known to cause rotavirus. They are also linked to causing a variety of negative side effects, including diarrhea, which is a condition the vaccine is supposed to prevent!
BACKGROUND: Live oral rotavirus vaccines have been less immunogenic and efficacious among children in poor developing countries compared with middle income and industrialized countries for reasons that are not yet completely understood. We assessed whether the neutralizing activity of breast milk could lower the titer of vaccine virus and explain this difference in vitro.
METHODS: Breast milk samples were collected from mothers who were breast-feeding infants 4 to 29 weeks of age (ie, vaccine eligible age) in India (N = 40), Vietnam (N = 77), South Korea (N = 34), and the United States (N = 51). We examined breast milk for rotavirus-specific IgA and neutralizing activity against 3 rotavirus vaccine strains-RV1, RV5 G1, and 116E using enzyme immunoassays. The inhibitory effect of breast milk on RV1 was further examined by a plaque reduction assay.
FINDINGS: Breast milk from Indian women had the highest IgA and neutralizing titers against all 3 vaccine strains, while lower but comparable median IgA and neutralizing titers were detected in breast milk from Korean and Vietnamese women, and the lowest titers were seen in American women. Neutralizing activity was greatest against the 2 vaccine strains of human origin, RV1 and 116E. This neutralizing activity in one half of the breast milk specimens from Indian women could reduce the effective titer of RV1 by ∼2 logs, of 116E by 1.5 logs, and RV5 G1 strain by ∼1 log more than that of breast milk from American women.
INTERPRETATION: The lower immunogenicity and efficacy of rotavirus vaccines in poor developing countries could be explained, in part, by higher titers of IgA and neutralizing activity in breast milk consumed by their infants at the time of immunization that could effectively reduce the potency of the vaccine. Strategies to overcome this negative effect, such as delaying breast-feeding at the time of immunization, should be evaluated.
Doctors have long known that infants who are breast-fed contract fewer infections than do those who are given formula. Mother's milk actively helps newborns avoid disease in a variety of ways. Such assistance is particularly beneficial during the first few months of life, when an infant often cannot mount an effective immune response against foreign organisms.
Here is contrarian bioethics at its best. Pregnancy and childbirth are so painful, risky and socially restrictive for women that public funding should urgently be directed to the development of artificial wombs. This is the only way to achieve true equality between men and women for then neither women nor men would then be limited by having children and the burdens of reproducing the species would be shared equally.