No one argues that when it comes to feeding baby, mom’s milk is best. But mothers infected with HIV, the AIDS virus, face a dilemma: Because some of their virus can be shed in breast milk, babies risk becoming infected as they drink it. Two research teams are now investigating a germ-warfare strategy to treat such vulnerable infants.
They would supplement breast milk with HIV-quashing bacteria. These beneficial microbes can’t guarantee a child won’t become infected, but they could greatly diminish the chance this will happen, says HIV specialist Ruth Connor of Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, N.H.
In the August Breastfeeding Medicine, she and colleagues from Complutense University of Madrid, in Spain, report isolating certain lactic acid bacteria from the breast milk of healthy women that substantially inhibit the growth and infectivity of human immunodeficiency virus type 1, or HIV-1.