Washington: Certain bioactive components found in human milk are associated with a reduced risk of HIV transmission from an HIV infected mother to her breast-fed infant, researchers say.“In developing countries, HIV-infected mothers are faced with the decision of whether or not to breastfeed their babies,” Lars Bode, from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, said.“Breastfeeding exposes the baby to the virus and increases the risk of the baby dying from HIV infection; but not breastfeeding increases the risk for the baby to die from other intestinal or respiratory infections,” Bode said.Bode and colleagues set out to find why the vast majority of breast-fed infants do not acquire HIV-1, despite continuous exposure to the virus in their mother’s milk over many months.Even in the absence of antiretroviral drugs, only 10 to15 percent of infants will acquire HIV infection from their HIV-infected mothers.They discovered that immunologically active components called human milk oligosaccharides (HMO) – a type of carbohydrate made up of several simple sugars linked together – may protect from HIV transmission.
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