Antibodies to Streptococci Pneumoniae in Sera and Secretions of Mothers and their Infants
Human milk normally contains antibodies against a variety of common pathogens, and there is epidemiologic evidence that breast-fed infants are less susceptible to certain gastrointestinal infections.1 The role of breastfeeding in protection against respiratory bacteria is less clear and is undoubtedly complicated by the practical and social factors that determine the exposure of infants to organisms such as the pneumococcus.2 The immunological mechanism of protection is assumed to be the presence of type-specific antibodies; however, there are no quantitative data on antibodies to pneumococci in human milk. In this paper we describe a prospective study of antibody levels to four common pneumococcal serotypes in mothers’ milk and in the sera and saliva of their infants during the first year of life. The pneumococcal types selected were types 6, 14, 19, and 23, which are the most common types associated with carriage and infection in early childhood.3 Because some of these capsular antigens bear structural similarities to oligosaccharides found in normal human secretions, we also studied the inhibitory effect of milk and saliva on the binding of type-specific antibodies to the pneumococcal polysaccharides.
KeywordsAntibody Level Human Milk Inhibition ELISA Pneumococcal Carriage Capsular Antigen
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