Maternal milk offers passive protection to a newborn infant against enteric pathogens, primarily via the transfer of immunoglobulins and growth factors from mother to infant. The historical concept of `immune milk’ (the transfer of passive immunity via lacteal antibodies) dates back to the 1950’s. In the 1960’s, the underlying mechanisms of passive immunity were realized when the chemical structure of immunoglobulins was discovered. Later in the 1970’s, the secretory immune system was identified which gave way to the role of secretory antibodies in the prevention or treatment of enteric infections in mammals.
Since the 1980’s, there has been considerable interest in utilizing antibodies from the milk and colostrum of heterologous species, particularly ruminants. Studies show that bovine antibodies can be effective in the prevention or treatment of human and animal diseases caused by enteropathogenic microbes (bacteria, viruses, protozoans, and fungi). Bovine colostrum is the most prevalent preparation available today, and it passes immunity to all the disease-causing pathogens that the cow has encountered in her lifetime, including the antibodies she received from her mother – a broad spectrum pharmacy. The efficacy of any bovine colostrum supplement is determined by the antimicrobial activity of the specific antibodies and complement factors, which must be preserved during the manufacturing process.
Bovine colostrum influences the immune system in two ways. First, by stimulating it to fight infection and second, to modulate it up or down depending on the most efficacious outcome. The newborn gut is unique in that it has not completed maturation at the time of birth and needs the growth factors and other components of colostrum to complete its development. Immunoglobulins are easily assimilated into the newborn’s body via the GI tract.
Bovine colostrum has been tested for the active antibodies against the following disease-causing microbes:
Human Papilloma virus
Diarrhea is especially lethal to infants and worldwide, it is the second leading cause of death in infants. Antibiotics are ineffective against virus-caused diarrhea, yet colostrum contains antibodies against many pathogens, including rotavirus which is very common in infants in young children. Chronic diarrhea caused by opportunistic Cryptosporidia and rotavirus is potentially fatal in children with AIDS because it causes muscle wasting and insufficient nutrient absorption in the gastrointestinal tract. The immunoglobulins in bovine colostrum help fight pathogens and IGF-1 increases muscle mass.
Infants, particularly those born prematurely, are most susceptible to diseases affecting the lungs and respiratory tract because their immune systems are not fully developed. Respiratory Viral Syndrome (RVS) is a common cause of infant mortality in the first two years. With no effective vaccine available, the administration of RVS immune prophylaxis is a viable solution. Research shows that lactoferrin and Proline-Rich Polypeptides (PRPs) in colostrum block entry of the virus into cells, either by blocking cellular receptors, or by direct binding to the virus particles. Seasonal influenza is also a concern for infants and young children, and in the absence of vaccination, bovine colostrum is a viable adjunct (or alternative for parents who have objections). Oral sprays containing concentrated Proline-Rich Polypeptides (PRPs) and lactoferrin can be easily administered to infants and young children. Powdered colostrum can be added to water or formula.s.
Allergies (including Milk Allergy)
Approximately one out of twenty infants is unable to tolerate the caseins in cow’s milk/colostrum. Thus, cow’s milk should not be introduced into the diet until this allergy is alleviated, so as to avoid any potential adverse reactions. Proline-Rich Polypeptides (PRPs) in colostrum modulate the pro-inflammatory cytokines, which can improve or eliminate symptomatology of both allergies and autoimmune diseases. Additionally, PRPs inhibit the overproduction of lymphocytes and T-cells and ameliorate the major symptoms observed in allergies and autoimmune disease (pain, swelling and inflammation). COLOSTRUM IC® (oral Immune Concentrate spray) is suited for children under two years of age who have not yet been exposed to either cow’s milk or cow’s colostrum.
World renown colostrum researcher, Andrew Keech, Ph.D. (APS BioGroup) recently explained the attenuation of cow's milk allergy: Since many infants are unable to tolerate caseins in cow’s milk, an oral PRP spray is recommended for two weeks prior to introducing cow’s milk or cow’s colostrum into the diet, particularly if the child is under two years of age. PRPs and growth factors in bovine colostrum modulate the casein sensitivity and restore homeostasis.
Studies with bovine colostrum have demonstrated the antiviral activity against rotavirus, the primary cause of diarrhea in infants and young children (Sarker SA, et al. 1998; Ylitalo S, et al. 1998; Mitra AK, et al. 1995; Davidson G, et al. 1989; Brüssow H, et al. 1987; Yolken RH, et al. 1985).
Bovine colostrum supplementation has also been shown to be a useful method, in addition to known medical and psychological treatments, to increase the weight of children with nonorganic failure to thrive (Panahi Y, et al. 2010). Oral lactoferrin (a component of colostrum) prophylaxis reduces the incidence of late-onset sepsis in infants weighing less than 3.3 pounds and most effective in infants weighing less than 2.2 pounds (Pammi M, Abrams SA. 2011).
In a case study of a commercial hyperimmune bovine colostrum with potent anticryptosporidial activity, a four year old child with AIDS and severe cryptosporidiosis-associated diarrhea experienced significant clinical improvement in the diarrhea and permanent elimination of the parasite from the gut (Shield J, et al. 1993). In another case study of bovine colostrum, a three year old child with acute cryptosporidia caused diarrhea was treated and recovered within two weeks (Heaton P. 1990).
Lysozyme, which is added to formulas but found in colostrum naturally, is beneficial for the treatment of periodentitis and the prevention of tooth decay. Milk enriched with lysozyme has also been used to feed premature infants suffering from concomitant diseases. (Zimecki M, Artym J. 2005).
Growth factors play an important role in maintaining the human body by stimulating cell growth, proliferation, differentiation and migration; responsible for repair of leaky gut epithelia; bone remodelling and maintenance; fracture repair; wound healing; increased collagen production; and growth of blood vessels into damaged areas. There is an increasing use of growth factors for the treatment of hematologic and oncologic diseases and cardiovascular diseases. The most significant growth factors in bovine colostrum for the infant/child’s benefit include: Insulin-like Growth Factor, Epithelial/Epidermal Growth Factor, Transforming Growth Factor, and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor.
Insulin-like Growth Factor I (IGF-1) – a protein hormone with a similar structure to insulin and a major growth factor that stimulates cell proliferation in wounds.
Insulin-like Growth Factor II (IGF-2) – a protein hormone with a similar structure to insulin and a major fetal growth factor; promotes growth during gestation.
Epithelial/Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) – stimulates the proliferation and differentiation of epidermal cells, including the intestinal lining, to maintain gut integrity.
Transforming Growth Factor Beta 1 & 2 (TGF-β1, TGF-β2) – controls cell growth, proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis; stimulates production of IgA by B lymphocytes; vital factor in skeletal growth, bone mass maintenance, and fracture healing.
Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) – creates new blood vessels during embryonic development and new blood vessels after injury.
The newborn gut is unique in that it has not completed maturation at the time of birth and needs the growth factors and other components of the mother’s colostrum to complete its development. This incomplete development of the gut is of benefit to the newborn as it allows large proteins, such as immunoglobulins, to easily enter the body. Immunoglobulins in colostrum and mother’s milk bind to disease-causing pathogens on the mucosal surfaces of the GI tract, thereby preventing them from colonizing and causing infection. This modulation by the immune system creates passive immunity for the infant.
Early weaning or exclusive formula use deprives the child of the immunity provided by the mother Immunoglobulins are not present in pasteurized milk or infant formula. Breastfeeding not only helps prevent disease in infants, but research shows that longer breastfeeding is associated with better mental health through childhood and into adolescence.
In modern times, the length of breastfeeding has been determined by social norms, mothers returning to the workplace, and the successful marketing of infant formulas. From 1900 to 1960, negative attitudes caused a significant decline in breastfeeding, however, the trend has been reversing. Experts now recommend that children be breastfed within one hour of birth (for mother’s colostrum), exclusively breastfed for the first six months, and subsequently breastfed until age two complimented with age-appropriate and nutritionally adequate foods.
A note about infant formulas: these are basically “junk food”. Although infant formulas contain protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, they contain none of living components present in bovine colostrum and mother’s milk. Formulas simply cannot provide protection against disease-causing pathogens which attack an infant’s immature immune system. If we rob children of these living components, bovine colostrum is the best substitute we presently have.
A note about breast milk sharing: a recent study showed that while good intentioned, 74% of breast milk samples purchased via the internet contained infectious bacteria and 21% contained cytomegalovirus (a herpes-type virus).
When mothers discontinue breast feeding before the age of two, bovine colostrum supplementation is strongly recommended for continued support and growth of all body tissue for optimum development and health.
To achieve the gastrointestinal benefits of bovine colostrum, it is crucial that the active components will bypass digestion in the stomach and be bioavailable for uptake and distribution to the body’s cells. Additionally, colostrum must be soluble for free dispersion throughout the GI tract as well as be able to readily disperse in water or formula. Liposomal Delivery makes colostrum up to 1,500% more bioavailable.
When purchasing a colostrum supplement and/or PRP spray, select one that is SGS, GMP, Kosher, and Halal certified. Also, be sure it’s standardized to contain a minimum of 25% immunoglobulins, 1.5% lactoferrin, 1.5% IGF-1 and 4-5% PRPs in every batch.
No significant health risks have been reported during or after oral ingestion of immune milk or colostral preparations.Supplementation with a LD Liposomal Delivery bovine colostrum supplement is generally regarded as a non-invasive intervention, and therefore, safe. Bovine colostrum is ideal for formula-fed infants or those with limited breast milk feeding (after potential casein allergy is ameliorated). Infants with specific health issues, such as pathogen-induced diarrhea, may have successful resolution without the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs.
PDF article with scientific references available HERE.
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