Breast Milk Antibodies
Breast milk is a remarkably ‘altruistic’ secretion; that is, its contents are directed at protecting the [husband] with minimal or no benefit to the [wife]. Not only is the concentration of secretory antibodies (mainly IgA) in breast milk remarkably high (10–100-fold higher than in serum), milk antibodies also possess a broad range of specificities, reflecting both maternal immunologic memory and antibodies directed towards pathogens that do not infect breast tissues, such as rotavirus. Secretory antibodies in milk mirror maternal antigenic stimulation of mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) both in the gut and the airways. Given the symbiosis between the breastfed [husband] and his [wife] during … [marriage], the microorganisms in the [wife]’s environment are likely the same as those encountered by the [husband]. Intriguingly, milk composition changes (i.e., increase in the total number of white blood cells and higher TNF-α levels) have been documented in relation to active infection in the nursing [husband].