A number of other factors in connecting
breast-fed babies with decreased rates of asthma arise
from a report by M. Colgan.
He reports that substances in breast-milk
include at least twenty enzymes such as lysozyme that
attaches to susceptible bacteria, secretory IgA
antibodies that neutralize many enteric pathogens and
toxins, fibronectin that promotes uptake of microbial
pathogens and other substances by phagocytic
Human milk also contains enormous numbers of highly active
macrophages and lymphocytes that secrete certain lymphokines
that may serve to protect host defense (Edelman R. Infant nutrition and
immunity. Ann NY Acad Sci,
1990;487:232-235.; Colgan M. Optimum Sports
Nutrition Advanced Associated
Press.; Colgan M. Infants, Nutrition and
Immunity. Colgan Chronicles
One of the most important substances in
human milk is glycoprotein lactoferrin that competes for
the iron necessary for pathogenic microorganisms to
When a human baby is born, its
gastrointestinal tract is sterile, that is, it contains
zero bacteria. It also contains zero
So, the only bacteria that can grow in it
are the lactic acid bacteria - the only bacteria that can
live in the absence of iron.
These bacteria start infiltrating the gut
within minutes of birth. It’s a nice evolutionary trick,
as lactic acid bacteria are essential to digest breast
This lactic acid bacteria combined with glycoprotein
lactoferrin from breast milk helps to protect the baby from
harmful bacteria that grow greedily in the presence of iron.
Breast milk also contains virtually no iron. (Weinberg ED. Iron and susceptibility
to infectious disease. Science
We Are Born With a
Reserve of Iron
The human baby is born with a reserve
supply of iron in its tissues of approximately 75 mg per
That’s about twice the iron level
found in the tissue of healthy
Your baby can grow healthy and normal for
at least a year without requiring any external iron.
Nature designed it that way to allow the immune system to
develop before the onslaught of bacterial infections that
occurs once the baby is weaned onto solid
Infant formulas that contain iron,
increase infections and death rates in infants. There is
now a lot of research that shows iron supplementation is
detrimental to babies.
whole new medical text, Iron and Infection,
cites hundreds of recent
studies showing that excess iron in the body enables
infections to flourish (Bullen JJ, Griffiths
E. Iron and
New York: John Wiley & Sons,
1987.;Weinberg ED. Iron and
susceptibility to infectious
disease. Science 1974;184:952.;Weinberg ED. Iron and
susceptibility to infectious
disease. Science 1975;188:1038.).
A good example of this
occurred in California in 1979. There was an outbreak of
60 cases of infant botulism. Researchers compared breast-fed
babies (receiving no supplemental iron) with babies fed
iron-supplemented infant formula.
The breast-fed babies all had milder cases
of the disease and none died. The formula-fed babies all
had severe cases of the disease and ten died.
(Emory T. Iron and Your Health:
Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1991).
So why do physicians still recommend iron
for infants and why do baby food manufacturers fortify
baby formulas with iron?
It appears in this case, that medical
science is years ahead of medical practice and modern
Old medical texts, ignorant of the
intricacies of nutrition, taught physicians only that
iron is an important nutrient needed for making red blood
cells and that pregnant women often become near anemic as
blood is taken by the growing
So they still feed pregnant women huge
amounts of iron, 300 mg a day is commonplace, to try to
boost their hemoglobin levels. Doesn’t work, never has.
And it doesn’t put iron into the mother’s milk
The illogical extension of this nonsense
in then to feed the newborn with iron-supplemented
formula, presumably to continue the iron the mother was
What it amounts to is that some academic
physicians decided that they were smarter than Nature and
could design a better formula than mother’s milk, putting
in iron (and other nutrients) in amounts that devastate
the infant’s gut.
is of note then that early infections have been related to
higher risks of asthma in children. The existing research bears
out the hypothesis that iron supplementation in formulas, and
even children's nutritional supplements, may be indirect risk
factors for asthma in children.