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Breast Milk Can Protect Children against the AIDS Virus: Study

Update Date: Jun 15, 2012 07:48 PM EDT

A latest study has shown that children may not get infected with HIV virus if they are breastfed. Researchers suggest, breast milk has some strong anti-virus that may protect children against the AIDS virus.

For the study, tests were conducted on genetically modified 'humanized' mice that can acquire HIV in the same way as humans. When the mice were given human breast milk contaminated with the virus, they were not infected.

The results revealed that even though some offspring did contract the virus from breastfeeding, the mother’s milk also had a strong anti-viral effect.

Apparently, it was found that most of the infants did not get infected with HIV in spite of repeated exposure.

“This study provides significant insight into the amazing ability of breast milk to destroy HIV and prevent its transmission,” study leader Dr Victor Garcia, from the University of North Carolina in the US, was quoted as saying by Mail Online.

“No child should ever be infected with HIV because it is breastfed. Breastfeeding provides critical nutrition and protection from other infections, especially where clean water for infant formula is scarce,” he added.

He further said that an understanding of how the virus is transmitted to infants from mothers, in spite of the protective effects of milk, will be a major step towards stopping the spread of AIDS through this particular mode of transmission.

Lead author Dr Angela Wahl said: "These results are highly significant because they show that braest milk can completely block oral transmisision of both forms of HIV that are found in the breast milk of HIV- infected mothers: virus particles and virus-infected cells."

"This refutes the 'Trojan horse' hypothesis which says that HIV in cells is more stubborn against the body's own innate defenses than HIV in virus particles."

The findings are published in the online journal Public Library of Science Pathogens.

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