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Eight-six children fed human milk were followed prospectively from birth to 12 months of age to assess the effect of milk 90K, a secreted glycoprotein with immune-stimulatory properties, on development of acute respiratory infections (ARI). The level of human milk 90K was inversely related to episodes of ARI (r = -0·34; P = 0·001). The average 90K level in human milk fed to children who did not develop ARI was significantly higher than in milk fed to children in whom infection occurred on multiple occasions (156·6±144·8 µg/ml versus 70·9±92·3 µg/ml; P = 0·001). These data suggest that the protective effects of human milk against ARI may be due in part to immune maturation effects by secreted 90K.