Human milk contains various bioactive substances including hormones, immunoglobulins, enzymes, and growth factors in addition to its macro- and micronutrients. It has been suggested that human milk is a vehicle of communication between the maternal and infant immune systems, providing passive protection as well as direct active immunomodulation. Human milk protects newborns against pathogens by acting directly on multiple physiologic systems. Bioactive and immunologic factors regulate the infant's immune, metabolic, and microbiome systems. Breastfeeding protects infants in all socioeconomic groups, showing a pattern of protective dose/duration-response effects. This review summarizes the immune components and immunologic properties of human milk and provides an update of their potential implications in the neonatal population.

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