Since neonatal gramnegative infections seem to increase at the same time as breastfeeding diminishes, the role of breast milk in the newborns defence systems needs evaluation. We have studied the presence of antimicrobial factors in colostrum and breast milk-specific (E.coli antibodies of the classes IgA, IgM and IgG) and unepecific (lactoperoxidase, lactoferrin and complement).

1. Lactoperoxidase, which is present in high concentrations in cows milk, was demonstrated only in low quantities in breast milk. This might be compensated by the high concentrations we found in the newborn's saliva. 2. Specific E. coli O-antibodies of the IgA-claee were demonstrated in breast milk and were probably of local production since they were not present in the serum of the mother. In contrast IgG-and IgM-E.coli antibodies were present in lower concentrations in breast milk than in serum. The IgA-antibodies pass along the GI-tract and appear in faeces with retained agglutinating capacity. 3. The relation between the maternal and infantile E.coli strains is studied. Whether or not the specific E.coli antibodies in breast milk influence the selection of the E.coli strains colonizing the infant's bowel is under investigation.

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Gothefors, L., Ahlestedt, S., Bronnestam, R. et al. ANTIMICROBIAL PROPERTIES OF BREAST MILK. Pediatr Res 8, 138 (1974).

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