Rotavirus infections

Rotavirus is a virus that causes gastroenteritis.

Symptoms include severe diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and dehydration. Almost all children in the UK are likely to be infected with rotavirus before their 5th birthday.

Infections happen most often in the winter and spring. It is very easy for children with the virus to spread it to other children and sometimes to adults. Once a child gets the virus, it takes about two days to become sick. Vomiting and diarrhea may last from three to ten days.

An interesting study has been published on which shows that breastfeeding protects against acute gastroenteritis caused by rotavirus. The protection seems to be greater in the first six months of a baby’s life but this study showed that there is still good level of protection from human milk in older breastfed infants. It is worth noting that rotavirus infections can be serious and babies may end up in hospital so breastfeeding is a real benefit here.

There are currently two rotavirus vaccines available for babies which aim to protect against the infection. However, another important study demonstrates that breastfed babies tend to respond to the vaccine less effectively than bottle fed babies and that human milk lessens the potency of the vaccine and acts as an inhibitor. This study can be found here;

Breastfeeding can potentially save a baby’s life from diarrhoeal disease, especially in third world countries!