Vaccination and Breast Milk, the Two Defense System of the Little One
Oleh: Morinaga Platinum
In order for the Little One to be able to fight germs and be protected from various sources of illness, they require a good immune system. Apparently, sources for immunity have already been prepared since the Little One is still in the womb of the mother.
In the last trimester of pregnancy, antibodies from the mother are passed to the Little One through the placenta. These antibodies are sources of immunity that are received by the Little One at the start of life. The types of antibodies received varies from one baby to another. For instance, if the mother is exposed to chicken pox towards the end of their pregnancy, then the Little One will have antibodies against chicken pox from the mother.
The flow of antibodies from the mother towards the end of the pregnancy makes Little Ones who are premature to be more susceptible to diseases. This is because their source of immunity has not been completely received by the time they are born.
After birth, these antibodies will slowly start to decrease. The immune system of the Little One is then supported by antibodies that are present in breast milk.
Colostrum, a yellowish fluid produced at the end of pregnancy and released after the birth of the Little One, is the breast milk which contains the most antibodies as a continuation of the immune system. There are many parents who misunderstand the importance of colostrum and believe that it is not good for the baby, and discard it. In fact, it is precisely this type of breast milk that is very much needed by the Little One.
Seeing the importance of breast milk as a source of nutrition and immunity for the Little One, the WHO recommends the provision of exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life of the Little One. After the age of 6 months, the Little One can be given complementary food while still receiving breast milk until the age of 2 years old. If this is successful, the immunity from breast milk can be completely received by the Little One.
Other than food intake, the Little One also requires another support for their immunity, which is vaccination. Vaccination is a program to prevent the occurrence of infectious diseases by giving vaccines so that an individual has a resistance towards that particular disease. The Little One will be given a vaccine containing the type of bacteria or virus that has been attenuated to stimulate the immune system of the body to form antibodies. Antibodies that are formed after immunization will protect the body from attacks of viruses or bacteria in the future.
Vaccines for Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Tetanus (DPT) as well as Haemophilus Influenza type B (HiB) are vaccines that will be given when the Little One is two months old. These vaccines are given early, as the immunity of the Little One towards these germs can rapidly decrease after birth and should be immediately boosted.
In contrast, the immunity of the Little One against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) can be sustained the longest in the body after birth, even up to the age of one year old. Therefore, the MMR vaccine is recommended to be given after the Little One is one year old.
The benefits of vaccination for the immune system of the Little One is so that they can fight the germs that are present in the environment. Children who are not immunized will not experience these benefits and will manifest more severe symptoms when contracting these diseases compared to other children who have received complete vaccinations.