The small intestine of a newborn grows at an enormous rate (with an increase in weight of 50 80% over 1 2 days) following the onset of suckling. Although such rapid increase in intestinal tissue mass is largely due to the transient retention of colostral immunoglobulins, there is evidence to show that the growth is partially stimulated by colostrumborne growth factors.[5,6] Oral administration of EGF or IGF stimulates intestinal epithelial cell proliferation in neonatal animals. In addition to the trophic effect, colostrumborne growth factors also affect intestinal functions, including digestive enzyme activity and nutrient absorption. The effects of colostrumborne growth factors are particularly pronounced in immature or growth-retarded newborn animals. In addition, colostrum or colostrumborne growth factors may have beneficial effects on the traumatized or diseased gut in older animals. Hence, it has been reported that oral administration of colostral extract or EGF minimizes intestinal tissue damage and reduces bacterial translocation in rotavirus-infected animals.
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