I’ve recently heard of people declining to vaccinate their babies because they breastfeed.
“My antibodies will protect the baby. S/He doesn’t need vaccines.”
Yes and no. Breast milk definitely has tons of health benefits to babies. But it’s not a be-all end-all magic potion of invincibility.
Breast milk primarily passes IgA antibodies. If you don’t understand what that means, then you are not educated enough about immunology to make the conclusion stated above. If you do understand what that meant, you most likely already know that vaccines are an amazing, life-saving technology.
In case you’re wondering what IgA antibodies are, allow me to explain. Humans have 5 main isotypes of antibody. IgA, IgG, IgM, IgE, and IgD. While all isotypes of antibody are present in breast milk, IgA is far and away the most prominent. IgA is considered a secretory antibody- it’s secreted into the gut and respiratory mucosae. While IgA serves a lot of vital functions, a concert of all the antibody isotypes is important for protection against infection. In addition to an imbalance of antibody isotypes, breast milk only offers temporary protection. Once the antibodies have passed through baby, the protection is gone. Vaccines teach the body how to make whatever antibody isotypes are necessary, and they can remain effective for many years.
Babies are incredibly susceptible to infection. Why would you risk your baby’s health when there are so many protective vaccines available?