Breastmilk and Saliva, baby protecting agents

Breastmilk can change when your baby is sick or exposed to illness. In fact, researchers believe that during breastfeeding, baby’s saliva reacts with breastmilk to produce reactive molecules. When a babies are sick, they pass on a cue through the saliva that sends a signal to the mother’s body to produce more milk with illness-specific antibodies. Similarly, if the breastfeeding mother is exposed to a virus, she will produce antibodies that are passed through her milk to the baby for protection. 

A  study done in 2013 found that when mothers and babies both had colds, levels of white blood cells in milk jumped by a factor of 64. But even when just the babies were sick, levels of white blood cells in breast milk still increased by 13-fold.  Suggesting that there is a co-interaction between the mothers and the baby’s immune system that is mediated by breast milk.