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The Magic of Breastfeeding
June 10, 2013
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With all the wonderful advances that have been made in science, there remains one thing that science cannot now, and will likely never be able to replicate: human breastmilk.  Did you know that each mother’s breastmilk is amazingly individualized for her own baby?  For example, the breastmilk that a mother produces for her term baby is different from the breastmilk she would have produced had her baby been born prematurely.  Similarly, the breastmilk that a mother produces for her one-week-old infant is different from the breastmilk she will produce when her infant is three-months-old or six-months-old or eighteen-months-old.  Not only does the nutritional content of breastmilk vary, but the infectious protection it provides varies as well, as the mother produces protective antibodies to germs she encounters on a day-by-day basis in her own (and thereby her baby’s) environment. Studies have shown that babies who are breastfed have a decreased incidence of gastrointestinal infections, respiratory infections, ear infections, allergies, asthma, eczema, diabetes, urinary tract infections, obesity, leukemia, and childhood cancers — all leading to decreased doctors’ visits, hospitalizations, and mortality.  Breastfeeding infants also have improved cognitive development, including increased vision and hearing function and possibly increased IQ.  Breastfeeding mothers benefit too, with decreased rates of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis.  In addition, breastfeeding results in decreased stress hormones in both baby and mother, and it improves mother-baby bonding.  And let’s not forget that breastfeeding saves families approximately $1000 over formula-feeding during the baby’s first year of life.  Truly, a mother’s magic!

La Leche League: www.llli.org

American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement on Breastfeeding

Baby Moon: www.baby-moon.org

Dr. Michelle Bennet

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