Strengthening Children’s Immune Systems in the Post-Pandemic Era
Parents are now becoming particularly concerned about the development of their babies’ immune systems in the post-pandemic era, where people have just begun to resume normal activity without masks and lockdowns. The new vaccine is now available for children aged 6 months to 3 years, and many parents are considering immunizing their children, but they remain concerned about the lack of data to support the impact of the vaccine on young children. Behaviors such as frequent wearing of masks and cutting back on going outside may reduce the chances of young children contracting viruses, but at the same time may overprotect their immune systems and make them more susceptible to invasions of common viruses. What should parents do to boost their babies’ immunity in the post-pandemic era? Many will be pleasantly surprised to learn that breastfeeding is the most effective way.
The probiotics and natural nutrients in breast milk, including live cells and soluble immunoglobulin (IgA) play an essential role in boosting infants’ immunity against viruses. As newborns grow, a healthy balance should be established between “good bacteria” (probiotics) and “bad bacteria” (pathogens) in the digestive and respiratory tracts. This balance strengthens the immune system by reducing the chances of pathogens developing, thus reducing the risk of contracting diseases. The probiotics in breast milk help to establish this balance in the digestive and respiratory tracts of babies, and effectively boost the immune system. This may be the reason why breast-fed babies have a relatively low risk of stomach, intestinal and respiratory infections.
In addition, breast milk provides babies with balanced nutrition and ensures good growth in all areas of the body. The skin is the first line of defense against germs, and the nutrients in breast milk strengthen the skin’s natural barrier to prevent damage and infection from bacteria and viruses. Of course, parents should also ensure that the environment in which their babies are exposed to is of a high standard of hygiene to protect them from bacterial and viral infections.
Although the benefits of breastfeeding are widely known, not all mothers can provide enough breast milk. Breast milk is produced according to the baby’s needs, so the supply of breast milk can usually be maintained or increased through direct breastfeeding or regular expression. However, if a mother is unable to provide enough breast milk after trying different methods, there is no need to worry too much, as probiotics can be naturally consumed through a variety of foods.
However, there is a possibility that antibiotics may have been added to different food products during the production process. Excessive intake of antibiotics may lead to the development of drug resistance in the body, and destroy both probiotics and harmful bacteria, resulting in an imbalance in the body, especially on the immune system of infants and young children whose immune systems have not yet fully developed. The good news is that in recent years, officially certified organic food has reached a certain standard, ensuring that antibiotics, hormones, genetically modified (GM) ingredients and other harmful chemicals are not used in the production process, so that parents can feel more at ease when choosing food for their babies.
If so, infant formula can also be safely used to supplement or replace breast milk. The closer the formula is to breast milk, the better, such as formula with probiotics. Studies have shown that among formula-fed infants, those who consumed probiotic-containing formula replenished probiotics in their intestines faster than those who consumed formula without probiotics, and their risk of contracting lower gastrointestinal and respiratory tract infections was lower.