Supporting Breastfeeding

La Leche League Canada

Breastfeeding, Inflammation & Infection

on August 22, 2016

We have long known that babies who are breastfed have a lower risk of getting an infection and that their immune systems develop differently. The biological mechanisms behind these differences are still under investigation by scientists.

A recently published study by Arnardottir, Dalli and Sehan into a class of molecules called “specialized pro-resolving mediators” (SPMs) found that these inflammation resolving molecules are found in high numbers in human milk. This group of molecules is involved in clearing infections, reducing inflammation, combating pain and healing wounds.

The highest levels of these SPMs were found in the breastmilk of healthy mothers. Mothers who had an active case of mastitis (a breast infection) had much lower levels in their milk samples. When their milk was tested it did not have the same ability to resolve inflammation and infection. Cow’s milk and artificial infant formula showed no detectable level of SPMs.



Further study will be needed to see how these SPMs have a role in the protection of the infant from infection and the development of the babies’ immune system. For now it would appear that they play a role in the mother in protecting against or resolving mastitis.

For more information about avoiding or resolving mastitis check out:

⦁ La Leche League Canada’s FAQs

⦁ La Leche League International’s Breastfeeding Today

⦁ Talking things over in-person with a La Leche League Leader is always the best way to get support and information that is right for your situation.


If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally


If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support. Your donation is essential and very much appreciated to help LLLC cover the cost of producing breastfeeding resources: or become a LLLC Friend .




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