It’s no secret that breast milk contains important proteins and lipids that are vital to a child’s growth and development, but a new study shows that a less-appreciated carbohydrate found in breast milk could hold the key to reducing — and perhaps ending — mother-to-child transmission of H.I.V. Researchers in Zambia have analyzed the samples of breast milk from 81 H.I.V.-positive women who transmitted the disease to their infants during breast-feeding, 86 H.I.V-positive women who did not transmit, and 36 uninfected women. The women whose breast milk samples held more concentrations of oligosaccharides, a carbohydrate found in human milk, were less than half as likely to have transmitted the infection to their babies than those with less concentrations.
The study, which was published online on August 15th in The American Journal of Clincal Nutrition, is not the first study that has suggested the connection of breast-feeding with ending H.I.V. mother-to-child transmission, yet is is one of the first to call attention to the healing effects of oligosaccharides.
These types of studies are extremely vital in order to create an AIDS-free generation by 2015, a goal which Hillary Clinton supported at the 19th Internatioal AIDS Conference on July 23rd, 2012. To join the movement, check out www.actfive.org, and watch Clinton’s speech from this year’s IAC here.