HIV and Breast Feeding

Breast-feeding certainly is the best way to provide proper nutrition to the baby. The baby's health, all through out his lifetime, is quite determined by how regularly he has fed on his mother. Breast milk develops a strong physical constitution of the child, and strengthens his immune system. Unfortunately, this is not the case, for the mother who is HIV positive and so should knew about HIV and breast feeding. Her milk can be a poisonous food for the baby. This is because of the possibility of HIV transmission through breast-feeding. There is 40% chance of the baby contracting the infection from the mother, due to breast-feeding.

Impact of breast-feeding?

A HIV positive mother herself lacks the immune system. Therefore, the milk that they produce, lack in the proper nutritional qualities. Their milk would not be able to effectively develop the immunity system of the baby. Breast milk contains maternal antibodies like IgM, IgA, IgD,IgG and IgE. HIV+ mothers lack the HIV specific IgM. The risk of HIV transmission through breast-feeding increases if the mother has newly contracted the disease.

Rate of HIV transmission through breast-feeding:Time wise it has been found that transmission rate during pregnancy is as less as 5% to 10%. During labor too, it varies between 10% to 15%. But the rate starts increasing with breast-feeding. Feeding the baby till six months, increases the chances of HIV transmission, up to 20% to 25%, while breast-feeding for more than 24 months can increase the chances of HIV up to 45%.

How transmission of HIV through breast-feeding occur?

What can be done to avoid HIV transmission through breast-feeding?Breast milk should be substituted with an artificial breast milk formula, prepared from powdered milk, boiled water, animal milk, micronutrients and sugar. However, it has to be kept in mind that this formula milk has to be given to the baby in a clean and hygienic feeding bottle. The bottle has to be sterilized properly, and the formula has to be made with clean, boiled water.

A child can be saved from HIV by proper antiretroviral treatment, while it is inside the mother's womb. However, he cannot always be saved, once he exposed to the world and feeds on the infected milk of his HIV positive mother. Therefore, the best way to stop the transmission of HIV through breast-feeding, is by feeding him with commercial formula that substitutes the breast milk.

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