The female breasts are of great fascination to men. Sigmund Freud even claimed that suckling on the mother’s breasts is the first step in an infant’s psychosexual development. However, some people take their mammary fetish a step too far. Yesterday, we were left rolling on the floor laughing at a new “scientific discovery” – that breasts can absorb and analyse saliva to produce better milk!
According to this person who shall not be named…
When a infant latches on to the mom for feeding , the darkened area around the nipples, I forget the name, absorb the saliva in analysing it. The mother’s body then prepares the ‘whatever’ and delivers it back to the child when breast feeding.
There is no anatomical or physiological basis for such a claim, which is not surprising since the person making the claim has no medical knowledge. However, he is fond of making such claims because they fit his idea of breasts as “intelligent milk machines” that can produce “customised milk“, based on the baby’s saliva.
Why would someone with no medical knowledge make something like this up? Because he is an antivaxxer who wanted to convince mothers that they don’t need to vaccinate their children. All they have to do is breastfeed them, and their maternal antibodies will protect their children against diseases.
What Is The Basis For His Claim?
From our conversations, it is obvious that he believes that the areolar glands absorb and analyse the baby’s saliva, so that mother’s body would know how to create antibodies to combat infections in the baby. These specially-created antibodies are then delivered to the baby through breastmilk. He proudly revealed the source of his idea – a 2011 post by someone called spaghetti_oo in the BabyCenter Community forum :
Yes, our budding scientist received his education from the University Of BabyCenter. But let’s take a look at the source of spaghetti_00‘s post – the Wikipedia entry for areolar glands :
As you can see, there is no mention of areolar glands having saliva receptors, or the idea that the mother’s body uses it to determine what to add or take away from the breastmilk it produces. That didn’t stop him from trying to prove his point correct.
In fact, he’s the only person I know who has the audacity to quote evidence that DISPROVES his own point as evidence FOR his case. 😀 Take a look at what he used as “supporting evidence” :
He seemed oblivious to the fact that this actually proves his idea wrong. Wikipedia allows anyone to type in anything they want. However, they have volunteers that help to vet these additions and remove those that are false or unfounded. Hence, the talk page showed that that part was removed about a month after it was added by an anonymous person with the IP address 188.8.131.52 (Lubbock, Texas).
Areolas Don’t Have Saliva Receptors
Like regular sebaceous glands in our scalp and face, they produce an oily secretion. Ask any woman how painful a cracked nipple is. That’s what those oily secretions help prevent.
Think of them as “factories” of oily secretions. They do not have salivary receptors. They certainly cannot analyse or detect the presence of pathogens in the saliva.
Maternal Immunity Is Passive Immunity
Antivaxxers insist that maternal immunity obviates the need for vaccines. They try to obscure the fact that that maternal immunity is both passive and temporary.
During a pregnancy, the mother confers maternal immunity to her foetus through IgG (Immunoglobulin G) antibodies. They pass to a developing foetus through the placenta, and protects it against diseases that the mother has been immunised against, whether it’s through surviving the disease or through vaccinations.
After birth, the baby no longer receives IgG antibodies from its mother. It will receive a last “boost” of IgG antibodies through the mother’s colostrum for the first 3-4 days of life. Thereafter, this maternal immunity will wane with time.
The maternal immunity conferred by regular breast milk is far less effective. It is mainly of the IgA (Immunoglobulin A) type, which primarily protects the baby’s gut and mucosal surfaces, because only modest amounts are actually absorbed into the bloodstream. Even this limited protection is temporary and ceases when the baby weans off breast milk.
In short, as useful as maternal immunity is in protecting a newborn against infectious diseases, it is only temporary and cannot replace vaccines. Vaccines confer active immunity because they actually teach your baby’s immune system to develop its own antibodies.
Finally, good maternal immunity is predicated upon the mother’s own immunity against diseases. If the mother is not vaccinated against measles (for example), then she cannot confer any immunity against measles to the foetus. After birth, the baby will not even have temporary immunity against measles. That’s why it is important for mothers to be vaccinated, so they can help confer the same protection to their foetuses and babies.
Breast Milk Is Good
Don’t get me wrong. Breast milk is the best milk for babies, and I strongly recommend breastfeeding. However, we should not fall for the baseless claim that breast milk will confer the same protection as vaccines. That is completely false.
Even if it is true that breast milk can confer protection against some diseases, how long do you expect to breastfeed a child? Until he/she turns 18? Maybe 21?
Perhaps this is just an excuse to engage in erotic lactation or lactophilia. After all, if it can confer immunity to the child, why shouldn’t the father partake in some “protection” too? 😀
Well, I don’t blame him. Both women and men like breasts, sometimes way too much. It’s in our nature. As Freud himself said…
No one who has seen a baby sinking back satiated from the breast and falling asleep with flushed cheeks and a blissful smile can escape the reflection that this picture persists as a prototype of the expression of sexual satisfaction in later life.
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