Oropharyngeal administration of colostrum to extremely low birth weight infants: theoretical perspectives

J Perinatol. 2009 Jan;29(1):1-7. doi: 10.1038/jp.2008.130. Epub 2008 Sep 4.


Studies in adults have shown that the oropharyngeal route can be used to effectively and safely administer interferon-alpha, an immune cell-derived cytokine, to patients who are unable to tolerate its parenteral administration. The mechanism for this appears to be the stimulatory effects of the cytokine, on the oropharyngeal-associated lymphoid tissue system. Own mother's colostrum (OMC) is rich in cytokines and other immune agents that provide bacteriostatic, bacteriocidal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory protection against infection. OMC may be especially protective for the extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infant in the first days of life; however clinical instability typically precludes enteral feedings during this period. Oropharyngeal administration is a potential alternative method of providing OMC. Oropharyngeal administration of OMC may have immunomodulatory effects on the recipient infant, and would be especially beneficial to the ELBW infant who would otherwise remain nil per os during the first days of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Colostrum / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight / immunology*
  • Infant, Newborn