Importance of Breastfeeding

"Breastfeeding is the most precious gift a Mother can give her baby. If there is illness or infection, it may be a life-saving gift. If there is poverty, it may be the only gift."
Ruth A. Lawrence, MD, FABM

Many consider breast milk to be the ideal form of nutrition for babies. It is recommended that infants be fed breast milk for at least six months. However, feeding an infant breast milk for over a year can be valuable. Breast milk contains a wide variety of nutrients and immune benefits that are beneficial for infant nutrition. These substances help to protect the infant from an assortment of illnesses and conditions. See Breastfeeding: making the difference in the development, health and nutrition of term and preterm newborns

Breast milk may decrease an infant’s risk of:

  • Infant diarrhea
  • Respiratory infections
  • Being hospitalized for RSV
  • Otitis media
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis
  • Childhood obesity (Duram & Chapman)
  • Otitis media
  • Childhood leukemia
  • Urinary Tract Infections

See Breast-Feeding and Infant Illness: A Dose-Response Relationship
 

Breast milk may also benefit an infant for life by helping to:

  • Support brain development
  • Lower the risk for diabetes
  • Reduce the risk for heart disease
  • Reduce the risk of certain cancers
  • Protect against asthma and allergies

See Benefits of Breastfeeding
 

Breast milk may benefit a mother by:

  • Saving the mother money by not buying formula
  • Protecting against certain cancers
  • Helping the body lose weight gained while pregnant
  • Increasing the bond between mother and baby
  • Decrease chances of arthritis

See Importance of Breastfeeding
 

Studies also show that many components of breast milk are protective against necrotizing enterocolitis.

  • Nitrate helps regulate blood flow to the intestines
  • L-Glutamine helps intestinal cells to grow
  • Human milk Oligosaccharides help cells grow

See Consumption of Human Milk Oligosaccharides by Gut-related Microbes

Growth factors help the baby’s development, helps intestinal growth
See Evidence based feeding strategies before and after the development of necrotizing enterocolitis

Studies