In our last post we discussed new research showing how mothers who breastfeed have a significantly lower occurrence of diabetes in her later life. Mothers who breastfeed also have a significantly lower risk of ovarian and breast cancer. Today we list some of the benefits to the baby who is fortunate enough to have a mother who breastfeeds him.
Breast milk provides ideal nutrition for the baby
Breast milk is one of nature’s miracles and a true gift to babies who receive it. That is because it is, in one food, an ideal and complete nutrition for the baby. It is perfectly composed of proteins and fats that provide, at least for the baby’s first 6 months, everything he needs. The composition of the milk will even change depending upon the changing needs of the baby. The only thing sometimes missing from breastmilk is Vitamin D, which may be supplemented with drops.
Breast milk contains important antibodies
Unlike formula, breastmilk contains natural antibodies that help the baby fight off viruses and bacteria. As the mother is exposed to these invaders, she produces antibodies that keep her healthy, and these protectors are passed to the baby in her breast milk. Breastfed babies have a lower risk of pneumonia, diarrhea, and ear infections. They have fewer doctor visits and are less likely to need hospitalization compared with formula-fed babies.
Reduces risk of asthma and many diseases
A baby who is breastfed for a least 3-4 months has a 30 to 40% lower risk of developing asthma or eczema. They have a similar reduction in the risk of diabetes types 1 and 2, as well as inflammatory bowel disease. They are about 50% less likely to be intolerant to gluten (celiac disease).
Reduces risk of childhood leukemia
Although relatively rare, leukemia is one of the biggest killers of children. Likely because breast milk if full of immune and anti-inflammatory compounds, and even stem cells, babies who are breastfed for 6 months or more show a 20% lower risk of developing leukemia.
Higher IQ and incomes later in life
A long-term study from Brazil, published in the British medical journal Lancet, showed that babies who are breastfed for at least a year have a 4 point IQ advantage, and earn on average R$ 341 more per month compared with formula-fed babies. This benefit is even greater for babies born pre-term. Breastmilk seems to support strong brain development.
Helps prevent SIDS
Sudden infant death syndrome is fortunately uncommon, but devastating to the family when it happens. Breastfed babies show up a 50% lower risk of suffering SIDS.
Supports healthy microbiome
Because breastmilk is a natural food, babies who are breastfed have a healthier mix of bacteria that inhabits their skin and gastrointestinal tracts. This may be one reason for their lower risk of asthma and gastrointestinal illnesses.
Promotes bonding with mother
Breastfeeding provides the ideal way for mothers and their babies to connect. The babies are more secure, and understandably feel more nurtured. This benefits the mother as well—breastfeeding stimulates the release of oxytocin, the “love hormone”.
While there are some situations that make it impossible for a mother to breastfeed, if they can, all mothers should be encouraged to feed their baby in the most natural way possible. As we see, there are innumerable benefits for both the mother and the baby!
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Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)