Look, I am all for science and technology. I love the idea of figuring out ways to make people healthier, especially babies. But I just read a news article and now I have to ask, “what in the world are they doing?!
Infants get sick so often??
I just read about a new finding at the University of Michigan. The question was asked, “Why do infants get sick so often?” OK, let’s stop right there. Let’s stop with THAT for one second.
Who’s baby is getting sick so often? My infants didn’t. I am not even bragging or anything, but in general, I am actually do people’s babies get sick all the time? I do understand that some babies have poor immune systems and they get sick a lot. I get that some babies are in daycare and that pumped breast milk won’t contain the same antibodies the child needs because the mother doesn’t come into contact with the same germs. I also get that formula fed babies will not acquire their mother’s antibodies. But can’t we just make that clear? Because this report acts like all infants get sick all the time.
OK, next order of business.
Researchers have actually figured out why (apparently) infants get sick so often.
Infant immunity has never been fully understood. Scientists have not been able to explain why the natural killer cell responses are deficient. In this study, the experts demonstrate the role of a cell (transforming growth factor beta- TGF-β) that can help us understand why.
TGF-β is a protein that controls cellular differentiation, proliferation, and other important functions in most cells.
Whoa, whoa, whoa… stop RIGHT THERE. What’s that? Infant immunity has never been fully understood? Is that why authorities get to dictate a parents choice of vaccination? TGF-β plays a factor with these too. Is that why we get to be threatened and forced to sign waivers that virtually admit that we are negligent irresponsible parents when we forgo vaccines? Is that why we are scoffed at and even YELLED at when we even question them? Because nobody even knows for sure what is going on with babies’ immune systems? Because nobody even really knows how they work for sure?
The role of transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β)
So then, according to these researchers, during infancy, signals from key cells inhibit the growth of essential immune cells. I would assume this is where everyone praises breast milk first and foremost. This is where the critically important breast milk antibodies enter the scene, I would assume. I would think this could be where milk banks get special grants from the government instead of the corn that will constitute a large amount of our infant formula. I would think that this is where breast milk donors get tax credits. Or something. After all, something needs to be done, because so many children are getting sick all the time.
After all, we have recently been told that according to new research:
- The risk of hospitalization for lower respiratory tract infections in the ﬁrst year is reduced 72% if infants breastfed exclusively for more than 4 months.
- Infants who breastfed exclusively for 4 to 6 months had a fourfold increase in the risk of pneumonia compared with infants who exclusively breastfed for more than 6 months.
- Any breastfeeding compared with exclusive commercial infant formula feeding will reduce the incidence of otitis media (middle ear inflammation/infection) by 23%.
- Exclusive breastfeeding for more than 3 months reduces the risk of otitis media by 50%.
- Serious colds and ear and throat infections were reduced by 63% in infants who exclusively breastfed for 6 months.
- Any breastfeeding is associated with a 64% reduction in the incidence of nonspeciﬁc gastrointestinal tract infections, and this effect lasts for 2 months after cessation of breastfeeding.
On the flip side
U of M researchers are among the brightest of the bright. This research could be critical for children with specific deficits, health concerns or risks. So, I am not for a moment trying to halt their discoveries or mock their science. My issue is with the authors’ suggested application of this discovery. Their idea is that if the natural TGF-β signaling is turned off, they will no longer be able to inhibit the growth of immune cells.
Furthermore, the passion of this research and lack of financial conflicts of interest leads me to believe that these researchers wholeheartedly are striving for optimal health in all children. The faculty page even states that the overall long-term goal of their laboratory “is to understand the mechanisms of immunosuppression at the interface between innate and adaptive immunity. Basic science supporting this area of research is critical to enhance the power of innate effector cells as therapeutic tools to strategically manipulate the immune system in the clinic to fight autoimmune diseases, tumor growth and pathogen invasion.”
These people could very well be the team that heals this generation of children that are suffer by the hands of other researchers. This team could be the team that once and for all proves that our current vaccine program should be allowed to crumble.
But then again…
I have a problem with someone suggesting that infants’ immune systems are just “not working right” somehow and need to be fixed. Granted, SOME children’s immune systems need fixing. But none of the articles mentioned that this could be applied to “some children” who were specifically and intensely unwell. ACTUALLY, in order to improve a normal infant’s response to infection, the scientists suggested blocking the signal. They thankfully said that more tests would be needed before attempting this disruption of normal infant biological function, but I can’t help but wonder if some day in the future, when this
opportunity for profit information is mulled over for awhile by less cautious researchers, we will have to sign a waiver admitting we are crappy parents for not allowing doctors to turn off natural cellular signalling.
What do you think? Do you think that we should mess with the cellular signalling of our infants? At what point would it be responsible for the researchers to test their theory out on an infant of average health?