Measles antibodies in the breast milk of nursing mothers.
At the Institute of Child Health (ICH) of the University College Hospital and at Adeoyo Maternity Hospital (AMH) in Ibadan, Nigeria, health workers took breast milk samples and blood samples from 226 lactating mothers and their infants, respectively, so researchers could examine the relationship between measles antibody levels in the infants and breast feeding duration. None of the mothers had a history of previous measles vaccination. Breast milk samples were more likely to have measles hemagglutinating (HI) antibodies than infant blood samples (AMH: 35.4% vs. 27.4%; ICH: 8.8% vs. 6.1%). At AMH, only 10 (32%) of the positive blood samples came from infants of mothers testing positive for measles HI antibodies. At ICH this figure was 28.6%. 30.9% of the AMH breast milk samples and 5.3% of the ICH breast milk samples tested positive for measles complement fixing (CF) antibodies, while none of the children had CF antibodies. When compared to their offspring, the greater proportion of mothers testing positive for measles antibodies suggests that breast milk protects against measles. Based on these findings, the researchers recommend that all health workers encourage mothers in Nigeria to breast feed their infants to protect them against measles infection.