Key words: Human milk, Immunological components, Bioactive molecules, Stem cells
In addition to the well-known nutritional benefits for the baby, human milk plays a central role in the development of the immune system, as it contains many cell types and bioactive factors directly derived from the mother’s immune system. Besides the direct role of defence from external bodies, all these factors are crucial in the development and modulation of the immune system of the child. Human milk is thus a complex set of immune-acting components that interact with the immune system of the newborn and vary from woman to woman and according to the phase of lactation. It is therefore essential to understand the importance of this complex food and its potential role in the development of the immune system, promotion of anti-infective mechanisms and regulation of tolerance and inflammatory response in early childhood.
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