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Health Benefits of Breastfeeding Your Baby.

October 9, 2009

Matthew Vasey, MD

When the word "breast" was searched on google video for research related to this article, breastfeeding ranks fifth, behind "Feel my breasts", "Breast touch", "Asian breast massage, how big the breast is" and "Salma Hayek on Letterman". Mind you, the breastfeeding video is that of a mother breast feeding her five and eight year-old kids. (Viewer discretion advised) It's easy to see that good information can sometimes take a back seat. Since your baby is unlikely to do this research on their own and request breastfeeding. Here's the quick and dirty since if this article was of interest, that's probably all you've got time for.

Breastfeeding for baby:
Best nutrition - "colostrum" is initially produced by the breast, don't miss out it's loaded with good stuff ... mature breast milk replaces colostrum two to four days after birth.
Easily digested - lower rates of diarrhea and vomiting
Allergy protection - and lower risk of eczema
Infection protection - mothers antibodies, cells that protect against bacteria, viruses and other illness causing agents are passed to baby while the baby develops their own antibodies leading to lower rates of ear infections, diarrhea, and respiratory tract infections
Presumed disease protection - lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), asthma, childhood diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease
Price is right - free, can't beat that!

Breastfeeding for mother:
Recovery after delivery - reduces uterine bleeding and promotes reduction in size of uterus back to normal
Menstruation reduction - return of period is delayed and lighter allowing mother to retain nutrients and iron. Please note, contraception must be supplemented to ensure prevention of getting pregnant again.
Weight loss - about 500 calories a day burned
Disease prevention - reduced risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancers along with improving bone strength.
Blood sugar control - important for control and prevention of diabetes
Breastfeeding promotes a healthy relationship between mother and child. Breastfeeding alone is recommended for the first six months before commercial foods begin. Breastfeeding at least one full year, preferably two years is ideal.

A great health resource for women,

American Academy of Pediatrics. The Resurgence of Breastfeeding in the United States. PEDIATRICS Vol. 99 No. 4 April 1997, p. e12
Chandra RK. Prospective studies of the effect of breast feeding on incidence of infection and allergy. Acta Paediatr Scand. 1979 Sep;68(5):691-4.Links
Gartner LM, Morton J, Lawrence RA, Naylor AJ, O'Hare D, Schanler RJ, Eidelman AI; American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics. 2005 Feb;115(2):496-506. Links
Matthew W. Gillman, MD,SM; Sheryl L. Rifas-Shiman, MPH; Carlos A. Camargo, Jr, MD,DrPH; Catherine S. Berkey, ScD; A. Lindsay Frazier, MD,MPH; Helaine R. H. Rockett, MS,RD; Alison E. Field, ScD; Graham A. Colditz, MD,DrPH Risk of Overweight Among Adolescents Who Were Breastfed as Infants JAMA. 2001;285:2461-2467.
P W Howie, J S Forsyth, S A Ogston, A Clark, C D Florey Protective effect of breast feeding against infection. BMJ 1990;300:11-16 (6 January), doi:10.1136/bmj.300.6716.11
Rudiger von Kries, professor of paediatrics, a Berthold Koletzko, professor of paediatrics, b Thorsten Sauerwald, senior house officer, b Erika von Mutius, reader in paediatrics, b Dietmar Barnert, statistician, a Veit Grunert, statistician, a Hubertus von Voss, professor of paediatrics. A Breast feeding and obesity: cross sectional study BMJ 1999;319:147-150 ( 17 July )
Victora CG, Smith PG, Vaughan JP, Nobre LC, Lombardi C, Teixeira AM, Fuchs SM, Moreira LB, Gigante LP, Barros FC. Evidence for protection by breast-feeding against infant deaths from infectious diseases in Brazil. Lancet. 1987 Aug 8;2(8554):319-22.Links on Social Media