Benefits of Breastfeeding by Dr. Julianna Randolph, DO
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Benefits of Breastfeeding
Early skin-to-skin contact and suckling may have physical and emotional benefits.
- Reduce the risk for certain allergic diseases, asthma, obesity, and type
- Improve infant's cognitive development.
- Decreases chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, ear infections, vomiting,
diarrhea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, or certain types of spinal
- Lower respiratory tract infections, such as croup, bronchiolitis, or pneumonia.
- Less likely to develop childhood acute leukemia and lymphoma than those
who receive formula.
- Less likely to be obese in adolescence and adulthood.
- Less vulnerable to developing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Reasons to initiate breastfeeding:
- Reduce maternal bleeding after delivery
- Involute uterus
- Facilitate positive metabolic changes
- Facilitate postpartum weight loss
- Reduce stress
- Delay ovulation
Reasons to continue breastfeeding:
- Increase postpartum weight loss
- Prolong lactational ammenorrhea
- Decrease visceral adiposity
- Reduce type 2 diabetes risk
- Reduce cardiovascular risk
- Reduce breast cancer risk
- Reduce ovarian cancer risk
Research shows that breastfeeding offers many health benefits for infants
and mothers, as well as potential economic and environmental benefits
Breastfeeding provides essential nutrition. Among its other known health
benefits are some protection against common childhood infections and better
survival during a baby's first year, including a lower risk of
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Research also shows that very early skin-to-skin contact and suckling may
have physical and emotional benefits.
Other studies suggest that breastfeeding may reduce the risk for certain
allergic diseases, asthma, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. It also may help
improve an infant's cognitive development.
What are the recommendations for breastfeeding?
In the United States, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) currently
- Infants should be fed breast milk exclusively for the first 6 months after
birth. Exclusive breastfeeding means that the infant does not receive
any additional foods (except vitamin D) or fluids unless medically recommended.
- After the first 6 months and until the infant is 1 year old, the AAP recommends
that the mother continue breastfeeding while gradually introducing solid
foods into the infant's diet.
- After 1 year, breastfeeding can be continued if mutually desired by the
mother and her infant.
The World Health Organization currently promotes as a global public health
- Infants be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months after birth to
achieve optimal growth, development, and health.
- After the first 6 months, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements,
infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods
while breastfeeding continues for up to 2 years of age or beyond.
Human milk provides virtually all the protein, sugar, and fat your baby
needs to be healthy, and it also contains many substances that benefit
your baby's immune system, including antibodies, immune factors, enzymes,
and white blood cells. These substances protect your baby against a wide
variety of diseases and infections not only while he is breastfeeding
but in some cases long after he has weaned. Formula cannot offer this
This defense against illnesses significantly decreases the chances that
your breastfeeding baby will suffer from ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea,
pneumonia, urinary tract infections, or certain types of spinal meningitis.
Infants under the age of one who breastfed exclusively for at least four
months, for instance, were less likely to be hospitalized for a lower
respiratory tract infection, such as croup, bronchiolitis, or pneumonia,
than were their formula-fed counterparts children who breastfeed for more
than six months are less likely to develop childhood acute leukemia and
lymphoma than those who receive formula.
Recent research even indicates that breastfed infants are less likely to
be obese in adolescence and adulthood. They are also less vulnerable to
developing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Source: US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health
For one-on-one assistance with breastfeeding, please call (559) 624-6012.
Julie Marlton, CLC
Debbie Seeger, CLC
Crystal Ctibor, IBCLC