We all are familiar with the fact that our only weapon to win the war against the coronavirus is a vaccine. But research suggests that even if a vaccine is released into the market, it may not be able to provide your child with the ultimate protection against the coronavirus. Scientists believe that iron deficiency in your infant can reduce the efficacy of the vaccines that your child receives. Want to know how? Then read on!
A study published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, and conducted by scientists with children in Kenya, suggests that iron-deficiency can render the vaccines ineffective. Michael Zimmermann from the ETH Zurich University, Canada, collaborated with the scientists from Kenya, the UK, the Netherlands, and the US for the study. The aim of the study was to determine the level of iron and antibodies against antigens (toxins or foreign substances) in children. For the course of the study, the scientists collected the blood samples of 303 children in Kenya in the age group of 0-18 months.
Dr. Zimmermann says, “In Kenya and other Sub-Saharan countries, iron reserves in babies are much lower, especially in those born to anemic mothers or with low birth weight.” The results of the study left the researchers stunned to their very core. By the age of 10 weeks, more than 50% of the babies were suffering from anemia. And more than 90% of the babies were suffering from anemia after 24 weeks. The children with iron deficiency had low levels of hemoglobin (a compound that carries oxygen) in their red blood cells.
The researchers analyzed the data and reached a shocking conclusion. The risk of finding a lack of antibodies against several diseases in the blood of 18-month old infants suffering from iron deficiency was twice as high as other babies. The lack of antibodies was especially evident against diphtheria and pneumococcal infections. To further investigate the problem further, in the second part of the study, researchers fed 127 infants above the age of 6 months with a powder containing essential micronutrients.
This practice was undertaken daily for nearly four months. Out of these 127 children, 82 daily consumed a powder containing iron and the rest didn’t. When the children turned nine months old, they were administered with a vaccine against measles. Scientists noticed that the ones who consumed an iron supplement daily developed a stronger immune response than the ones who didn’t. Researchers further claim that the antibodies of these children were also able to recognize the pathogens (disease-causing germs) more efficiently.
This proves that infants need their daily dose to iron to fight against several diseases. WHO recommends that you only feed breastmilk to infants up to six months of age. This helps to protect your infant from diseases transmitted via contaminated food and water. A mother’s breastmilk is rife with several micronutrients such as iron, antibodies, and vitamins. Therefore, it helps your child to build a natural immunity against several diseases and also react better to vaccinations.
Do check out this inspiring story of a new mum who passed on the antibodies against coronavirus to her newborn son via her breastmilk.