July/August #136 : Mother Lode - by Rachel Rabkin Pechman

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Table of Contents

The Killing Fields


Vote of Confidence

Getting Crystal Clear

Mother Lode

High Definition

Control Issues

Going Green

The Mirror Has Two Chins

Trans America

Gimme Some Skin

Pole Position

RED Bull?

Uniform Care

Bush's Test Results

Achy Breaky HAART


A Ryan White Scorecard

Hot Dates-July/August 2007

The Art of Activism

Bringing Sexy Back

Trigger Happy

Culture Wars

Oui Are the World

Big Gulp

Editor's Letter-July/August 2007

Catch of the Month-July/August 2007

Mailbox-July/August 2007

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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July / August 2007

Mother Lode

by Rachel Rabkin Pechman

In some countries, positive mother's milk is a winner

HIV-positive moms have long been told to feed their infants formula to avoid transmitting HIV via breast milk. But a South African study has found that breastfeeding exclusively during the first six months of life is the safest choice in many places where contaminated formula and food commonly spread deadly diarrhea. Formula-fed babies die at about twice the rate of those on breast milk in such areas. What's more, the study found that the risk of HIV transmission is ten times lower when infants in developing countries had breast milk alone than if they had other food as well.

Study leader Hoosen Coovadia, MD, lists a few possible reasons for the surprising news. Breast milk has nutritional and immunity building benefits. Exclusive breast feeding also produces milk with lower HIV levels by continously draining the breasts. And it minimizes breast damage such as bleeding nipples, further dropping transmission risk. Whatever the cause, infant-feeding guideline for positive moms in developing nations are being revised as a result.

But ladies, don't try this at home. In the United States and other nations with clean food and water, breast feeding is not recommended for positive mothers. "When the formula is safe, use it," says Dr. Coovadia. "There's still a risk of HIV transmission with exclusive breastfeeding."

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