Factor in Breast Milk May Cut H.I.V. Spread
By NICHOLAS BAKALAR
Samples of breast milk were taken from women in Zambia to determine the levels of human milk oligosaccharides they contained. This is a carbohydrate which may reduce the risk of viral transmission of H.I.V., according to growing evidence. The samples were taken from women who are H.I.V. positive and had transmitted the disease to their offspring, women who are H.I.V. positive but had not transmitted the disease to their offspring, and from uninfected women. The study found that women who have higher than average levels of human milk oligosaccharides are less likely to transmit the disease to their offspring while breast feeding. Breast milk provides numerous positive benefits and women are encouraged to breast feed, even in areas of the world with limited resources. The benefits of breast feeding are greater than the risk of transmitting the disease from breast feeding.
The choice to breast feed for women who are H.I.V. positive must be a very tough one to make. Knowing that you could pass the disease to your children by breast feeding or not having the resources to feed your children otherwise is scary. This article should have discussed what the transmission rate from mothers to their offspring is. There is no doubt that breast feeding does have many positive benefits and it is good that women are still encouraged to do so. However, there is still a risk of transmission and there are many lifelong health issues related to being H.I.V. positive. There are risks associated with choosing to breast feed or not. Each side must be weighed carefully.