Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Many Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding a baby has a ton of positive benefits.  People can disagree, but the research speaks for itself.  It has been shown through empirical evidence that breastfeeding decreases the incidence of ear infection, Chron’s, respiratory tract infection, urinary tract infections, obesity, lymphoma, Type I Diabetes, autism, allergic reactions, and wheezing illnesses.  Studies have also shown that breastfeed babies are on average 6 IQ points higher than their non-breastfeed counterparts.  Breastfeeding also encourages maternal-infant bonding.

Science has never been able to replicate real breast milk.  Formula is basically a cheap imitation of breast milk, and not a very good imitation at that.  They can’t always replicate in a lab what the human body naturally makes.   The mother’s body makes exactly what the baby needs.  Human milk is rich in immunoglobulins, leukocytes, macrophages, and T and B lymphocytes, all things that boost up a baby’s immune system and prevent him or her from getting sick.  These really important components of breast milk are not in formula.

Why in the world would women not breastfeed if they are physically able to?  There is a trend in the United States for less women to breastfeed less then in previous generations.  It’s also becoming more common for babies to be breastfed for a shorter period of time than before.  We can owe this trend to more working mothers, less social support among women, challenges of breastfeeding for a working mother, and countless other reasons.  It’s a trend that is not good for the infant.

Doctors recommend that babies are exclusively breastfeed until 6 months of age.  At 6 months, you can start giving the baby solid foods, but it’s for recreational eating, not to meet their daily requirements.  Along with their new intake of some solid foods, babies should still continue to be breastfed until they are at least 12 months old.    

Before any mother decides to forgo breastfeeding their infant, they should really be educated about the benefits of breast milk.   Breast milk from the mother is a clean, nutritional, healthy and free way to feed the baby.  It’s really the best choice for the baby.