Studies were carried out during an outbreak of rotavirus type 2 infection in a neonatal nursery to determine the protective role of antibodies in cord blood and breast milk. The range, distribution, and geometric mean titres of rotavirus-specific antibody in the cord blood were similar among rotavirus-positive and rotavirus-negative neonates, and the amount of virus excreted did not correlate with antibody levels. Despite the protective effect of breast feeding, the pattern of rotavirus-specific IgA and IgG antibodies in the expressed breast milk of mothers of babies who were rotavirus excreters and non-excreters was similar. Nevertheless, a higher proportion of expressed breast milk samples contained rotavirus-specific IgA group 2 (92%) and type 2 (97%) specific antibodies than type I (67%) antibodies, and the geometric mean titres of group 2 and type 2 specific antibodies were tenfold higher than type I antibodies. Among breast-fed babies who excreted rotavirus there was no correlation between type 2 rotavirus-specific IgA antibodies in expressed breast milk and the amount of neonatal virus excretion. These studies suggest that factors other than the rotavirus antibodies in expressed breast milk are of importance in preventing rotavirus infection in newborn infants.
Source: Br Med J. 1980 March 22; 280(6217): 828–830. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1600947/