Story That Breast-Feeding Reduces Vaccine Effectiveness is False

A widely-circulated story that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a delay in breast-feeding to boost vaccine effectiveness is false.

Healthywildandfree.com and foodrenegade.com have versions of the false story that link to a 2010 study published in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, the Associated Press reported.

That small study tried to determine why a vaccine against rotavirus -- which causes half a million child deaths worldwide each year -- wasn't as effective in developing countries as in industrialized countries.

The study concluded that breast milk could make the vaccine less effective. However, later studies showed there is no reason to limit breast-feeding in the hours before and after rotavirus vaccination, and the World Health Organization says breastfeeding doesn't significantly impair the response to the rotavirus vaccines, the AP reported.

"There is no recommendation from the CDC or the (American Academy of Pediatrics) that mothers delay breast-feeding to enhance vaccine efficacy," said Dr. Joan Younger Meek, a Tallahassee, Florida, physician who chairs a breast-feeding panel for the AAP.

"Breast milk contains multiple immune protective factors, including whole cells which fight infection," according to Meek, the AP reported.

She said all breast-fed infants should receive scheduled vaccines, and there is no need to interrupt or delay breastfeeding when infants are vaccinated. Breast-fed babies sometimes respond better to vaccines than formula-fed infants, Meek noted.

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