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World Breastfeeding Week: Revisiting Immunity

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. Breastfeeding is the best way to provide infants with the nutrients they need. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding starting within one hour after birth until a baby is 6 months old. Nutritious complementary foods should then be added while continuing to breastfeed for up to 2 years or beyond to empower the new-borns with the foundation that provides protection in early life and in the years ahead.

The foundation of good immunity wanes off as we grow. Maternal health has a direct influence on the immunity response and its passive passage to the new borne. Thus it is imperative that during the growing years the future mothers continue to maintain good health for themselves.

Our immune system is multi-layered with safeguards at various levels. The first barrier is the skin and the other being our body temperature and pH that make inappropriate living conditions for the microorganisms. Once the microorganism have an entry and survival skills in our body, the innate and/or the acquired or adaptive immune system takes charge. These two systems work intricately to eliminate the pathogens. Detection and elimination depend upon chemical bonding: surfaces of immune system cells are covered with various receptors, some of which chemically bind to pathogens, while others bind to other immune system cells or molecules to enable the complex signalling system that mediates the immune response.

In order for immune system to work efficiently, it needs good nutrition, adequate sleep and moderate physical activities. There are also external supplements that can help to stimulate the immune system.

Immunomodulators are biological or synthetic substances stimulate, suppress or modulate any aspect of the immune system including both adaptive and innate arms of the immune system. Immunomodulators are classified into the following three categories:

  • Immunoadjuvants are used to enhance the efficacy of vaccines and therefore could be considered specific immune stimulants. Immunoadjuvants hold the promise of being the true modulators of the immune response. It has been proposed that they be exploited as selectors between cellular and humoral helper T1 (Th1) and helper T2 cells (Th2).
  • Immunostimulants are inherently non-specific as they are envisaged as enhancements to a body’s resistance to infection. They can act through innate as well as adaptive immune responses. In healthy individuals, the immunostimulants are expected to serve as prophylactic and promoter agents, i.e., as immunopotentiators, by enhancing the basic level of immune response. In the individual with impairment of immune response, they are expected to act as immunotherapeutic agents.
  • Immunosuppressants are a structurally and functionally heterogeneous group of drugs, which are often concomitantly administered in combination regimens to treat various types of organ transplant rejection and autoimmune diseases.

Immunity continues to be the main key towards healthy living. As we celebrate the world breastfeeding week, let us continue to empower the individuals for laying good foundation with balanced and boosted immunity in adulthood and especially the mothers so that they remain healthy and pass on good health to their babies.


  1. Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. All rights reserved
  2. Journal of Microbiology, Immunology and Infection (2012) 45, 165e184








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