The article in “New Scientist” started out OK, pointing out how Mum’s breast milk enhances the child’s immunity. No argument from me.
It’s the ultimate “raw milk” argument, actually. Nothing in cow’s milk junk (raw or cooked) matches the magic of human breast milk for babies.
It contains lactoferrin, a protein that inhibits the growth of bacteria, and special sugars that stick up pathogens so they can’t flourish. There are also lots of juicy Momma’s antibodies, to get the child started with immunity to a wide range of pathogens. This is easily monitored in the fact that breast-fed babies get far fewer infections than those fed on cow’s milk.
So far so good. There’s nice semi-erotic picture of a delicious warm globe of a breast, filling a contented baby’s face as it suckles.
Then the NEXT LINE, it says,
“There is another way of furnishing a child’s immune system with first-class defenses that is quick, relatively cheap and arguably one of medicine’s greatest achievements: vaccinations against a dozen or more fatal diseases”
Wait a minute! Grab the remote, hit REWIND; let’s back up here…
These two comments do NOT belong side by side. Natural immunity is one thing; artificial immunity is another.
Moreover children are NOT vaccinated against “a dozen or more fatal diseases”. In fact none of them are fatal. Some could be, like measles, meningitis and whooping cough. We’ll let that go.
But the article goes on, in pseudo-scientific tone, that “Unfortunately, some anti-vaccine campaigners claim this amounts of overloading the immune system – an idea that has no basis in fact, considering the millions of microbes we face down in every speck of dirt”. This is stupid and beyond: when did you EVER see or hear of an individual getting measles and mumps all at the same time, while they already had hepatitis maybe, and then went down with meningitis and, oh, diphtheria moved in too? It just doesn’t happen that way naturally.
We get our diseases one at a time. The immune system can cope. We respond and hopefully survive. But I doubt if we would if we got 10-12 diseases at the same time!
Of course it is overloading the immune system to feed it a dozen shocks at once. Moreover, the aggressive schedule in the USA (not used elsewhere because it’s highly dangerous) start kids in the first month, or even at birth. This violates the pretty picture I just painted of mother’s antibodies, which is what Nature provided. Why does she do that? Because the newly-formed child’s body cannot respond with antibodies. In other words, vaccination is useless before about the 8th week.
Is there any connection between this folly and the fact that kids have immune systems that are way overactive, resulting in asthma, eczema and food allergies? Later in life it becomes autoimmune diseases. We then have to fight to quite down the immune system and lessen the inflammatory response.
I’ve told the story and various ways to do that in my latest book: “Fire In The Belly”. You can get a copy here…