[permaculture] Re: permaculture Digest, Vol 2, Issue 20

Anne Schwarz sennaflight at hotmail.com
Thu Mar 20 03:09:40 EST 2003

"As it is true, however, that mothers can confer an immunity to their 
infants, would you know how they can do that if "genetic  variability is 
irrelevant'? Would it be through the colostrum? How is the immune system 
primed to identify pathogens the child will encounter once born, if not 
through some sort of genetic mechanism? I'm asking because I don't know."

Immunity to disease is brought about by the functions of MHC (Major 
Histocompatibility Complex).  MHC is part of a macroflage that breaks up 
cells it detects as foreign objects (like a bacteria or virus).  The MHC 
then takes these pieces (called antigens) and gives them to T-Helper cells, 
which then make a cure from these antigens (which is exactly how many 
vaccines work).
You are born with your own unique MHC type (unless you are an identical 
twin), which is like the toolbox that holds your tools.  Breast milk works 
in the same way that vaccines do, by transmitting the antigens of various 
foreign cells that the T-helper cells use to make a cure.  This is like 
adding tools to your box.

You get sick when you don't have the propper MHC tool and the foreign cells 
get overlooked.  This is easy to do because bacteria and viruses tend to 
mutate, which means that your body can miss a few of them.

So the short answer to your question is that your immune system relies on 
both genetics and exposure,  which is why some children are sickly and then 
"grow out" of it.
Hope that helps out some.
Anne Schwarz

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