We know that breastfeeding reduces the incidence of ear infections, respiratory infections, and diarrhea in babies. But did you know that…
- Full (exclusive) breastfeeding for four months reduces hospitalization of infants for infection during the first year of life, even in industrialized countries like the US.
- Very low birth weight infants could gain a potential increase of five IQ points on the Bayley Mental Development index if they receive breast milk in the NICU.
- Major medical and maternal/child health organizations (WHO, UNICEF, ILCA, AAP, Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine) agree that exclusive breastfeeding during emergencies and natural disasters protects newborns and young infants from water-borne diseases and provides safe nutrition until the crisis is past.
- Breastfeeding for more than four months could result in lower teen overweight for all racial and socio-economic status groups. The breastfed infant also has a reduced risk for developing elevated cholesterol later in life.
- If a breastfeeding mom frequently eats fruits and vegetables, the taste of these foods passes into the breast milk and helps her baby more readily accept these foods when solid feeding is begun.
- Multiple studies have shown that breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancers in the mother. Girls who are breastfed as infants go on to have reduced risk for breast cancer later in life.
- Reduced risk for the infant for a variety of infectious diseases including bacterial meningitis, necrotizing entercolitis, and urinary tract infections.
- Reduced rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in the first year of life. Infant mortality beyond the neonatal period is reduced by 21%.
- Reduced incidence of insulin-dependent (type 1) and non-insulin dependent (type 2_ diabetes mellitus in the infant. Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes in the mother.
- Reduced risk for a variety of childhood cancers, including leukemia and lymphoma in the breastfed infant.
- Reduced risk for asthma, childhood food allergies, respiratory allergies, and eczema in the breastfed infant.
- Breastfeeding protects babies from developing Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis later in life.
- Lactating women lose weight easier after pregnancy.
- Breastfeeding enhances vaccine efficacy.
- Breast milk protects babies against tooth decay.
- Children who were breastfed as infants tend to have lower blood pressure.
- Breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk for gallbladder disease.
-Barbara Wilson-Clay, IBCLC, and Elise Kibler, MD