101 Reasons To Breastfeed Your Child

Written by Leslie Burby, brought to you by ProMoM.
© 1998-2003 ProMoM, Inc. All rights reserved. (Revised June 14, 2001.)

  1. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends it
    According to the most recent statement of the Academy, “Human milk is the preferred feeding for all infants, including premature and sick newborns. It is recommended that breastfeeding continue for at least the first 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired.”
    A.A.P. Breastfeeding Policy Statement: Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk (http://www.aap.org/policy/re9729.html) 
  2. Breastfeeding promotes bonding between mother and baby
    The American Dietetic Association promotes breastfeeding and believes that “the bonding that occurs during breastfeeding makes it a special choice.”
    ADA Website: http://www.eatright.org/
    Breastfeeding stimulates the release of the hormone oxytocin in the mother’s body. “It is now well established that oxytocin, as well as stimulating uterine contractions and milk ejection, promotes the development of maternal behavior and also bonding between mother and offspring.” Uvnas-Moberg, Eriksson: Breastfeeding: physiological, endocrine and behavioral adaptations caused by oxytocin and local neurogenic activity in the nipple and mammary gland.
    Acta Paediatrica, 1996 May, 85(5):525-30 
  3. Breastfeeding satisfies baby’s emotional needs
    All babies need to be held. Studies have shown that premature babies are more likely to die if they are not held or stroked. There is no more comforting feeling for an infant of any age than being held close and cuddled while breastfeeding. While many bottle-feeding parents are aware of the importance of cradling their babies while offering the bottle, some are not. Even for parents with good intentions, there is always the temptation to prop up a bottle next to the child, or, when the baby is a little older, to let the child hold his/her own bottle and sit alone. This is emotionally unsatisfying to baby, and can be dangerous physically. An unsupervised child can choke. Also, propping up bottles overnight leads to tooth decay. 
  4. Breast milk provides perfect infant nutrition
    “Human milk is uniquely superior for infant feeding and is species-specific; all substitute feeding options differ markedly from it. The breastfed infant is the reference or normative model against which all alternative feeding methods must be measured with regard to growth, health, development, and all other short and long-term benefits.”
    A.A.P. Breastfeeding Policy Statement: Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk (RE2729)
     
  5. Not breastfeeding increases mother’s risk of breast cancer
    It’s been known for several years that breastfeeding is associated with lower rates of pre-menopausal breast cancer. Now a new study from China has concluded that a woman who breastfeeds for 24 months of her life has only half the risk of developing breast cancer as a woman who breastfeeds for 1 – 6 months. Protection increases to 75% for those who breastfeed for a total of 109 months. This held true for both pre-menopausal and post-menopausal cancers.
    Zheng et al, “Lactation Reduces Breast Cancer Risk in Shandong Province, China” Am. J. Epidemiol. 152 (12): 1129
    Newcomb PA, Storer BE, Longnecker MP, et al. “Lactation and a reduced risk of premenopausal breast cancer.” N Engl J Med. 1994;330:81-87
     
  6. Formula feeding increases baby girls’ risk of developing breast cancer in later life
    Women who were formula-fed as infants have higher rates of breast cancer as adults. For both premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer, women who were breastfed as children, even if only for a short time, had a 25% lower risk of developing breast cancer than women who were bottle-fed as infants.
    Freudenheim, J. et al. 1994 “Exposure to breast milk in infancy and the risk of breast cancer”. Epidemiology 5:324-331
     
  7. Formula Feeding is associated with lower I.Q.
    Human breast milk enhances brain development and improves congnitive development in ways that formula can not. One study has found that the average I.Q. of 7 and 8 year children who had been breastfed as babies was 10 points higher than their bottle fed peers. All of the children involved had been born prematurely and tube fed the human milk, indicating that the milk itself, not the act of breastfeeding, caused this difference in I.Q. level.
    Another study to support this statement was done in New Zealand. An 18-year longitudinal study of over 1,000 children found that those who were breastfed as infants had both higher intelligence and greater academic achievement than children who were infant-formula fed.
    Horwood and Fergusson, “Breastfeeding and Later Cognitive and Acadenic Outcomes”, Jan 1998 Pediatrics Lucas, A., “Breast Milk and Subsequent Intelligence Quotient in Children Born Preterm.” Lancet, 1992; 339:261-262Vol. 101, No. 1
    Morrow-Tlucak M, Haude RH, Ernhart CB. “Breastfeeding and cognitive development in the first 2 years of life”. Soc Sci Med. 1988:26;635-639
    Lucas A., “Breast Milk and Subsequent Intelligence Quotient in Children Born Preterm”. Lancet 1992;339:261-62
    Wang YS, Wu SY. “The effect of exclusive breastfeeding on development and incidence of infection in infants.” J Hum Lactation. 1996; 12:27-30
     
  8. Breast milk is always ready and comes in a nicer package than formula does
    Need we say more?
     
  9. Breast milk helps pass meconium
    Babies are born with a sticky tar-like substance called meconium in their intestines. Colostrum, or early milk, is uniquely designed to help move this substance through the infant’s body. 
  10. Breast milk contains immunities to diseases and aids in the development of baby’s immune system.
    Formula provides neither of these benefits. “Breastfed babies have fewer illnesses because human milk transfers to the infant a mother’s antibodies to disease. About 80% of the cells in breast milk are macrophages, cells that kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Breastfed babies are protected in varying degrees from a number of illnesses including, pneumonia, botulism, bronchitis, staphylococcal infections, influenza, ear infections, and German measles. Furthermore, mothers produce antibodies to what ever disease is present in their environment, making their milk custom-designed to fight diseases their babies are exposed to as well.”
    Williams RD, “Breast-Feeding Best Bet for Babies”, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Statement: http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/895_brstfeed.html
    Koutras, A.K., “Fecal Secretory Immunoglobulin A in Breast Milk vs. Formula Feeding in Early Infancy”. J. Ped Gastro Nutr 1989.
     
  11. Breast milk is more digestible than formula
    “Babies can digest human milk more easily than the milk of other animals, probably because human milk contains an enzyme that aids in this process. Breast milk forms softer curds in the infant’s stomach than cow’s milk (the basis for most formulas) and is more quickly assimilated into the body system. While it contains less protein than does cow’s milk, virtually all the protein in breast milk is available to the baby. By contrast, about half the protein in cow’s milk passes through the baby’s body as a waste product. Similarly, iron and zinc are absorbed better by breastfed babies.”
    The Complete Book Of Breastfeeding M.S. Eiger. MD, S. Wendkos Olds, Copyright 1972, 1987 Comstock, Inc., Workman Publishing Co., Inc., 708 Broadway, New York, NY 10003 
  12. Baby’s suckling helps shrink mother’s uterus after childbirth
    “Nursing will help you to regain your figure more quickly, since the process of lactation causes the uterus (which has increased during pregnancy to about 20 times its normal size) to shrink more quickly to its pre-pregnancy size. “
    The Complete Book Of Breastfeeding M.S. Eiger. MD, S. Wendkos Olds Copyright 1972, 1987 Comstock, Inc., Workman Publishing Co., Inc. 708 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
    The uterus of the non-breastfeeding mother will never shrink back to its pre-pregnant size. It will always remain slightly enlarged.
    Chua S, Arulkumaran S, Lim I et al. “Influence of breastfeeding and nipple stimulation on postpartum uterine activity.” Br J Obstet Gynaecol 1994; 101:804-805 
  13. Baby’s suckling helps prevent post-partum hemorrhage in mother
    Nursing her baby causes the mother’s body to release oxytocin, which stimulates contractions which help shrink the uterus back to pre-pregnancy size while expelling the placenta. These contractions also shut off the maternal blood vessels that formerly fed the baby and discourage excessive bleeding. Women who choose not to breastfeed must be given synthetic oxytocin to insure against hemorrhaging.
    Chua S, Arulkumaran S, Lim I et al. “Influence of breastfeeding and nipple stimulation on postpartum uterine activity.” Br J Obstet Gynaecol 1994; 101:804-805 
  14. Nursing helps mom lose weight after baby is born
    Breastfeeding requires an average of 500 extra calories per day.
    Dewey KG, Heinig MJ, Nommwen LA. “Maternal weight-loss patterns during prolonged lactation. “Am J Clin Nutr 1993;58:162-166

    Breastfeeding mothers generally lose weight faster than bottle feeding moms. “They experience quicker slimming of the abdoment, and decreased risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer, as well as osteoporosis.”
    Statement by American Dietetic Association
    Mothers who breastfed exclusively or partially had significantly larger reductions in hip circumference and were less above their pre-pregnancy weights at 1 month postpartum than mothers who fed formula exclusively.”

    Kramer, F., “Breastfeeding reduces maternal lower body fat.” J. Am Diet Assoc 1993; 93(4):429-33
     
  15. Pre-term milk is specially designed for premature infants
    “Milk produced by women who deliver prematurely differs from that produced after a full-term pregnancy. Specifically, during the first month after parturition, pre-term milk maintains a composition similar to that of colostrum..”

    Hamosh, Margit, PhD, Georgetown University Medical Center “Breast-feeding: Unraveling the Mysteries of Mother’s Milk”.
     
  16. The World Health Organization and UNICEF recommend it
    “…breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; … it forms a unique biological and emotional basis for the health of both mother and child; …the anti-infective properties of breast milk help to protect infants against disease; and … there is an important relationship between breastfeeding and child spacing”.(Emphasis added)
    (See The WHO/UNICEF International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes).
     
  17. Breastfeeding protects against Crohn’s disease (intestinal disorder)
    Crohn’s Diease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation extending into the deeper layers of the intestinal wall. It is difficult to treat, but several studies have shown that breastfeeding may help babies avoid developing the disease.
    Koletzko S, Sherman P, Corey M, et al. “Role of infant feeding practices in development of Crohn;s disease in childhood.” Br Med J. 1989;298:1617-1618
    Rigas A, Rigas B, Blassman M, et al. “Breast-feeding and maternal smoking in the etiology of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in childhood.” Ann Epidemiol. 1993;3387-392
     
  18. Formula feeding increases risk of baby developing type I (juvenile, insulin-dependent) diabetes
    There are many studies linking development of juvenile diabetes to lack of breastfeeding. The results of a recent study in Finland suggest that at introduction of dairy products at an early age, and high milk consumption during childhood increase the level of cow’s milk antibodies in the children’s systems. This factor is independently associated with increased risk of insulin dependent diabetes.
    Virtanen et al: “Diet, Cow’s milk protein antibodies and the risk of IDDM in Finnish children.” Childhood Diabetes in Finland Study Group. Diabetologia, Apr 1994, 37(4):381-7
    Mayer, EJ, Hamman RF, Gay EC, et al. “Reduced risk of IDDM among breast-fed children”. Diabetes, 1988;37:1625-1632
    Virtanen SM, Rasanen L, Aro A, et al. “Infant feeding in Finnish children <7 yr of age with newly diagnosed IDDM” Diabetes Care, 1991;14:415-417
    Gerstein HC. “Cow’s milk exposure and type 1 diabetes mellitus”. Diabetes Care. 1994;17:13-19
    Borch-Johnson, K., et al., “Relation between breastfeeding and incidence of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus”. Lancet 2:1083-86 (1984)
     
  19. Breastfeeding baby helps decrease insulin requirements in diabetic mothers
    Reduction in insulin dose postpartum was significantly greater in those who were breastfeeding than those who were bottle feeding.
    Davies, H.A., “Insulin Requirements of Diabetic Women who Breast Feed.” British Medical Journal, 1989
     
  20. Breastfeeding may help stabilize progress of maternal endometriosis
    Endometriosis is a disease in which the endometrial tissue in a woman’s body begins to form in places other than her uterus, such as on her ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the outer surface of the uterus. This tissue continues to function like uterine tissue would in the uterus, and sheds once a month during the woman’s menstrual cycle. Since there is no vaginal outlet for this blood and tissue, painful complications, including sterility, may result. There is much clinical research showing that pregnancy temporarily stops the progress of this disease. Many women say that the disease also seems to be alleviated by breastfeeding. It certainly makes sense that the delay in the return of a woman’s menstrual cycle would be desirable in preventing the endometriosis from starting up again. Some women even claim a permanent cure. After nursing her children for a total of 27 months, one woman stated, “Even today, my periods are still regular, my ovulation normal and predictable, and I have forgotten that pain, like a fist in the stomach that used to keep me awake at night so often”.
    Annie Havard, “Breastfeeding – a cure for endometriosis”, Allaiter ajourd’hui, Quarterly Bulletin of LLL France, No. 25, Oct. – Dec. 1995
     
  21. Not breastfeeding increases mother’s risk of developing ovarian cancer
    Based on the research, for every 1.6 women who do not breastfeed, only one woman who does will develop ovarian cancer.
    Gwinn ML, “Pregnancy, breastfeeding and oral contraceptives and the risk of Epithelial ovarian cancer.” J. Clin. Epidemiol. 1990; 43:559-568
    Rosenblatt KA, Thomas DB, “Lactation and the risk of Epithelial ovarian cancer”. Int J Epidemiol. 1993;22:192-197
    Schneider, AP “Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer”. New England Journal of Medicine, 1987.
     
  22. Not breastfeeding increases mother’s risk of developing endometrial cancer
    A World Health Organization study has shown that the longer a woman breastfeeds, the less likely she is to get endometrial cancer.
    Rosenblatt, KA et al “Prolonged lactation and endometrial cancer” Int. J. Epidemiol. 1995; 24:499-503
    Petterson B, et al. “Menstruation span- a time limited risk factor for endometrial carcinoma”. Acta Obstst Gyneocol Scand 1986;65:247-55
     
  23. Formula feeding increases chances of baby developing allergies
    “Breastfed babies have fewer allergies than artificially fed babies, This is especially important if your family has a history of allergies. Many babies are allergic to cow’s milk formulas. some babies are even allergic to soy formulas. Breastfeeding protects against other allergies, such as atopic eczema, food allergies , and respiratory allergies.”
    Wiggins, PK , Dettwyler, KA” Breastfeeding: A Mother’s Gift”, July 1, 1998 ed., Chapter 1, L.A. Publishing Co.
    Merrett, TG, et al., “Infant Feeding and Allergy: Twelve Month Prospective Study of 500 Babies Born in allergic Families.” American Allergy, 1988; 13-20
    Lucas A, Brooke OG, Morley R, et al. “Early diet of preterm infants and development of allergic atopic disease: randomized prospective study”. Br Med J. 1990:300:837-840
    Halken S, Host A, Hansen LG, et al. “Effect of an allergy prevention programme on incidence of atopic symptoms in infancy”. Ann Allergy. 1992;47:545-553
    Saarinen UM, Kajossari M. “Breastfeeding as prophylaxis against atopic disease: prospective follow-up study until 17 years old.” Lancet. 1995;346:1065-1069
     
  24. Breast milk lowers risk of baby developing asthma
    Breastfed babies have lower risk for developing recurrent wheezing when they are older (age 6 or more).
    Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Med., July 1995
     
  25. Formula feeding increases baby’s risk of otitis media (ear infections)
    “Otitis media is up to 3-4 times more prevalent in formula-fed infants”.
    Aniansson G, Alm B, Andersson B, et al. “A prospective cohort study on breast-feeding and otitis media in Swedish infants”. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 1994; 13:183-188
    Duncan, B et al “Exclusive breastfeeding for at least four months protects against Otitis Media”, Pediatrics 91(1993): 897-872
    Kovar MG, Serdula MK, Marks JS, et al. “Review of the epidemiologic evidence for an association between infant feeding and infant health.” Pediatrics. 1984:74:S615-S638
    Saarinen UM. “Prolonged Breast Feeding as prophylaxis for recurrent otitis media.” Acta Paediatr Scand. 1982;71:567-571
     
  26. Formula feeding may increase risk of sudden infant death syndrome (S.I.D.S.)
    There are a number of studies showing a link between lack of breastfeeding and S.I.D.S. It has been found that for each month of breastfeeding, the chance of S.I.D.S. is reduced by 50% compared to formula fed babies.
    Fredrickson, DD et al., “Relationship between Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and Breastfeeding Intensity and Duration.” Am. Journal of Diseases in Children, 1993: 147:460
    Ford RPK, et al .”Breastfeeding and the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.” International Journal of Diseases in Children, 1993, 22(5):885-890
    Taylor BJ, Mitchell EA, et al. “Breastfeeding and the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Int J. Epidemiol. 1993;22:885-890
    Mitchell EA, Taylor BJ, Ford RPK, et al. “Four modifiable and other major risk factors for cot death: the New Zealand Study”J Paediatr Child Health. 1992;28:S3-S8
    Scragg LK, Mitchell EA, Tonkin SL, et al. “Evaluation of the cot death prevention programme in South Auckland.” NZ Med J. 1993;106:8-10
     
  27. Breastfeeding protects baby against diarrheal infections
    Numerous studies have shown that diarrheal infections are much more common in formula-fed babies. This is true throughout the world, despite a common misconception that only people living in areas with contaminated water need be concerned with this issue. Such infections are more likely to be fatal in developing nations, but all formula-fed infants are at greater risk than their breastfed peers.
    Kovar MG, Serdula MK, Marks JS, et al. “Review of the epidemiologic evidence for an association between infant feeding and infant health.” Pediatrics. 1984:74:S615-S638
    Dewey KG, Heinig MJ, Nommsen-Rivers LA. Differences in morbidity between breast-fed. “Differences in morbidity between breast-fed and formula-fed infants.” Pediatr. 1995;126:696-702
    Howie PW, Forsyth JS, Ogston SA, et al. “Protective effect of breast feeding against infection.” Br Med J. 1990;300:11-16
    Popkin BM, Adair L, Akin JS, et al. “Breast-feeding and diarrheal morbidity.” Pediatrics. 1990;86:874-882
    Beaudry M, Dufour R, Marcoux S. “Relation Between infant feeding and infections during the first six months of life.” J Pediatr. 1995; 126:191-197
     
  28. Breastfeeding protects baby against bacterial meningitis
    Meningitis is an infection which causes the inflammation of the membrane covering the brain and spinal cord. It can be caused by a type of bacteria called Hemophilus influenzae type b (HiB). Breastfeeding is protective against infections caused by this bacteria, and the meningitis which may result.
    Cochi SL, Fleming DW, Hightower AW, et al. “Primary invasive Haemophilus influenzae type b disease: a population-based assessment of risk factors.” J Pediatr. 1986;108:997-896
    Istre GR, Conner JS, Broome CV, et al. “Risk factors for primary invasive Haemophilus influenzae disease: increased risk from day care attendance and school-aged household members.” J Pediatr. 1985;106:190-198
     
  29. Breastfeeding protects baby against respiratory infections
    These include “infections caused by rotaviruses and respiratory syncytial viruses.”
    Grover M et al “Effect of human milk prostaglandins and lactoferrin on respiratory syncytial virus and rotavirus” Acta Paediatr. 1997; 86: 315-316

    “Breastfed babies were less than half as likely to be hospitalized with pneumonia or bronchiolitis.”
    Piscane A, et al “Breastfeeding and acute lower respiratory infections” Acta Paediatr. 1994; 83: 714-718
    “Breastfed babies had one-fifth the number of lower respiratory tract infections compared to formula-fed infants.”
    Cunningham, Allan S. MD “Breastfeeding, Bottle-feeding and Illness – An Annotated Bibliography”, 1996.
    Frank Al, Taber LH, Glezen WP, et al. “Breast-feeding and respiratory virus infection.” Pediatrics 1982;70:239-245
    Wright AI, Holberg DJ, Martinez FD, et al. ” Breast feeding and lower respiratory tract illness in the first year of life.” Br Med J. 1989;299:935-949
    Chen Y. “Synergistic effect of passive smoking and artificial feeding on hospitalization for respiratory illness in early childhood.” Chest. 1989;95:1004-1007
    Wright AL, Holberg CH, Taussig LM, et al. “Relationship of infant feeding to recurrent wheezing at age 6 years.” Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149:758-763
     
  30. Formula fed babies have a higher risk of developing certain childhood cancers
    In a study done by researchers at the University of Minnesota it was found that babies who were breast fed for at least one month had a 21% less chance of getting leukemia than formula fed babies. The risk was 30% for children breast fed for 6 months.
    “Breastfeeding May Lower Risk For Leukemia In Children”, c. 1999, Mediconsult.com
    Davis MK, Savitz DA, Graubard BI. “Infant feeding and childhood cancer.” Lancet. 1988;2:365-368
    Shu X-O, Clemens H, Zheng W, et al. “Infant breastfeeding and the risk of childhood lymphoma and leukemia”. Int J Epidemiol. 1995;24:27-32
     
  31. Breastfeeding decreases chances of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
    Preliminary data from U. of North Carolina/Duke University researchers indicates breastfed children were only 40% as likely to develop JA.
    “Mother’s Milk: An Ounce of Prevention?” Arthritis Today May-June 1994
     
  32. Breastfeeding decreases child’s chances of contracting Hodgkins disease
    Hodgkins disease is a type of lymphoma, or cancer of the lymph system. It can develop in children, although it is less likely to do so in children who were breastfed as infants.
    “An Exploratory Study of Environmental and Medical Factors Potentially Related to Childhood Cancer.” Medical & Pediatric Oncology, 1991; 19(2):115-21
     
  33. Breastfeeding protects baby against vision defects
    In a study in Bangladesh, breastfeeding was a protective factor for night blindness among preschool-aged children in both rural and urban areas. Breast milk is generally the main, if not the only source, of vitamin A during a child’s first 24 months of life (or for the duration of breastfeeding).
    Bloem, M. et al. “The role of universal distribution of vitamin A capsules in combating vitamin A deficiency in Bangladesh.: Am J Epidemiol 1995; 142(8): 843-55
    Birch E, et al. “Breastfeeding and optimal visual development.” J Pediatr Ophthalmol Strabismus 1993;30:33-8
     
  34. Breastfeeding decreases chances of osteoporosis
    According to the studies below, both breastfeeding mothers and their children will be less at risk for development of this disease.
    The odds that a woman with osteoporosis did not breastfeed her baby was 4 times higher than for a control woman.

    Blaauw, R. et al. “Risk factors for development of osteoporosis in a South African population.” SAMJ 1994; 84:328-32

    Dr. Alan Lucas, MRC Childhood Nutrition Research Center of London, found that 8-year-olds who were fed formula rather than breast fed as infants, had less developed bone mineralization than those fed breast milk.
    “Bone mineral density decreases during lactation, but after weaning showed higher bone mineral density than those who did not breastfeed.”

    Kalwart HJ and Specker BL “Bone mineral loss during lactation and recovery after weaning.” Obstet. Gynecol. 1995; 86:26-32
    Melton LJ, Bryant SC, Wahner HW, et al. “Influence of breastfeeding and other reproductive factors on bone mass later in life.” Osteoporos Int. 1993;22:684-691
    Cumming RG, Klineberg RJ. “Breastfeeding and other reproductive factors and the risk of hip fractures in elderly woman.” Int J Epidemiol 1993;22:684-691
     
  35. Breast milk is aids in proper intestinal development
    “…certain hormones in milk (such as cortisol) and smaller proteins (including epidermal growth factor, nerve growth factor, insulin-like growth factor and somatomedin C) act to close up the leaky mucosal lining of the newborn, making it relatively impermeable to unwanted pathogens and other potentially harmful agents. Indeed, animal studies have demonstrated that postnatal development of the intestine occurs faster in animals fed their mother’s milk. And animals that also receive colostrum, containing the highest concentrations of epidermal growth factor, mature even more rapidly.”
    Newman, J, MD, FRCPC “How Breast milk Protects Newborns” http://www.promom.org/bf_info/sci_am.htm
     
  36. Cows milk is an intestinal irritant
    According to Dr. William Sears, MD, cow’s milk should not be given as a beverage to infants under one year of age. “Cow’s milk can irritate the lining of your infant’s intestines, causing tiny losses of iron. This can contribute to iron-deficiency anemia.”
    The Baby Book – Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby From Birth to Age Two. c. 1993 Little, Brown & Co.
     
  37. Formula-fed babies are more at risk for obesity in later life
    A recent German study concluded “in industrialized countries, promoting prolonged breastfeeding may help decrease the prevalence of obesity in childhood. Since obese children have a high risk of becoming obese adults, such preventative measures may eventually result in reduction in the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases and other disease related to obesity.” The study found that 4.5% of formula fed children are obese, while only 0.8% of breastfed children have this condition.
    von Kries, R et al, “Breastfeeding and obesity: cross sectional study.” BMJ 1999; 319:147-150 (July 17)
     
  38. Breastfed babies have less chance of cardiopulmonary distress while feeding
    Bottle-fed babies are at increased risk of cardiopulmonary disturbances, including prolonged airway closure and obstructed respiratory breaths due to repeated swallowing.
    Koenig HS, Davies Am, Thach BT. “Coordination of breathing, sucking and swallowing during bottle feedings in human infants.” J Appl Physiol 69: 1629: 1623-1629, 1990.

    Infants can experience oxygen saturation below 90% when bottle feeding. Nine of 50 healthy term infants in one study experienced bradycardia during bottle feeding. Six of these episodes were preceded by apnea, three showed hypopnea (marked reduction in ventilation) and one had certral apnea (no respiratory efforts).
    Matthew O, Clark ML, Ponske MH. Apnea, bradycardia, and cyanosis during oral feeding in term neonates.” J Pediatr 106:857, 1985
     
  39. Breastfed babies have less chance of developing ulcerative colitis
    Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that causes ulceration and inflammation of the inner lining of the colon and rectum. A number of studies have shown that breastfed babies are less likely to develop this disease.
    Whorwell PJ, et al., “Bottle-feeding, Early Gastroenteritis, and inflammatory Bowel Disease.” British Med. Jour. 1 (1979):382
    Rigas A, Rigas B, Blassman M, et al. “Breast-feeding and maternal smoking in the etiology of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in childhood.” Ann Epidemiol. 1993;3387-392
     
  40. Breast milk protects against hemophilus b. bacteria
    Hemophilus influenzae type b is a bacteria which can grow in the respiratory tract with no symptoms, but may spread into the throat, ears or blood and cause grave illness. Breastfed babies are much less vulnerable to such an overgrowth.
    Cochi SL, Fleming DW, Hightower AW, et al. “Primary invasive Haemophilus influenzae type b disease: a population-based assessment of risk factors.” J Pediatr. 1986;108:997-896
    Takala AK, Eskola J, Palmgren J, et al. “Risk factors of invasive Haemophilus influenzae type b disease among children in Finland. J Pediatr. 1980;115:695-701
    Istre GR, Conner JS, Broome CV, et al. “Risk factors for primary invasive Haemophilus influenzae disease: increased risk from day care attendance and school-aged household members.” J Pediatr. 1985;106:190-198
     
  41. Breastfed babies require shorter pre and post-surgical fasting
    Breastfeeding may continue until three hours before arrival time at the hospital in healthy children having elective surgery.
    Schreiner, M.S. “Preoperative and Postoperative fasting in children.” Ped Clinics N Amer 41 (1); 111-20 (1994)
     
  42. Breastfeeding results in less sick days for parents
    Since breastfed babies are statistically healthier than their formula fed peers, the parents of breastfed babies spend less time out of work taking care of sick children. 
  43. Breastfeeding enhances vaccine effectiveness
    Breastfed infants showed better serum and secretory responses to oral and parenteral vaccines than those formula-fed.
    Han-Zoric, M., “Antibody responses to parenteral and oral vaccines are impaired by conventional and low protein formulas as compared to breastfeeding.” Acta Paediatr Scand 1990; 79:1137-42
     
  44. Breastfed babies have less chance of developing necrotizing enterocolitis
    This disease occurs most commonly in premature or sick newborns. In NEC the lining of the intestinal wall dies and sloughs off. Premature infants fed their own mother’s milk or banked human milk are one sixth to one tenth as likely to develop NEC. An Australian study has estimated that 83% of NEC cases may be attributed to lack of breastfeeding.
    Drane, D. “Breastfeeding and formula feeding: a preliminary economic analysis” Breastfeed Rev 1997; 5:7-15
    Lucas A, Cole TJ. “Breast milk and neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis.” Lancet. 1990; 336:519-1523
    Convert RF, Barman N, Comanico RS, et al. “Prior enteral nutrition with human milk protects against intestinal perforation in infants who develop necrotizing enterocolitis.” Pediatr Res. 1995; 37:305A. Abstract
     
  45. Breastfeeding is a natural contraceptive
    This is true only if you are exclusively breastfeeding, and have not yet gotten your period back following childbirth. Night nursing encourages longer amenorrhoea (periodlessness). If you really don’t want to get pregnant again, use some back up birth control even if you haven’t gotten your period again. Unless you are carefully following a natural family planning program, you will have no way of knowing when your first ovulation will occur, and by the time you figure it out you may be expecting! Still, generally speaking, breastfeeding contributes to optimum child spacing.
    Kennedy KI, Visness CM. “Contraceptive efficacy of lactational amenorrhoea.” Lancet. 1992; 339:227-230
    Gray RH, Campbell OM, Apelo R, et al. “Risk of ovulation during lactation.” Lancet. 1990; 335:25-29
    Labbock MH, Colie C. “Puerperium and breast-feeding.” Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 1992; 4:818-825
     
  46. Breastfeeding is easier than using formula
    After the initial start up period, breastfeeding is very easy. All you have to do is raise your shirt and let the little one latch on. No shopping for formula, bottles, and other supplies. No mixing, heating, refrigerating and cleaning up of formula. If you sleep with your baby, or sleep the baby next to your bed, you can forget about all the disturbing night time rituals associated with formula use. All you have to do is roll over, let the baby latch on, and go back to sleep! 
  47. Breast milk is free
    Any way you look at it, you’ll spend a lot more money if you choose to formula feed. The added calories a nursing mother must take in are a negligible expense, and nursing clothes are optional. If you need to pump, excellent pumps are available for between $50 and $225. A good pump can be used for more than one child, so they are really an investment. Do be sure to buy a pump manufactured by a company specializing in their manufacture. Beware of pumps made by formula companies. Many woman report these pumps to be inefficient at best, and painful at worst. 
  48. Formula is expensive
    The cost of feeding a baby on formula for one year was estimated to be around $1000 in 1990. It has certainly gotten more expensive since. If you factor in the added medical cost you are statistically likely to incur, that brings the cost up to around $2,300 per year. If your baby happens to require a hypo-allergenic formula, you will have to considerably more.
    Batten W. Hirschman J. Thomas C. Impact of the special supplemental food program on infants. J Pediatr 117 II:SIOI-109, 1990
     
  49. Formula costs the government (and taxpayers) millions of dollars
    The U.S. government spends over $500 million a year to provide formula for its WIC supplemental food program.
    Batten W. Hirschman J. Thomas C. Impact of the special supplemental food program on infants. J Pediatr 117 II:SIOI-109, 1990
     
  50. Breast milk is always the right temperature
    Severe burns to babies’ mouths have occurred due to improper heating of artificial milks. Even when it’s done correctly, it’s never fun to try to warm a bottle for a fussing baby. 
  51. Breast milk always has the right proportions of fat, carbohydrates and protein
    Formula companies are constantly adjusting these proportions looking for the best composition. The reality is that a mother’s milk composition changes from feeding to feeding depending on the needs of her child. No formula can do that! 
  52. Breast milk acts like a natural tranquilizer for baby
    Mother’s milk contains chemicals that seem to work like “knock-out drops” for tired babies. Even if baby doesn’t fall asleep, he/she will certainly calm down and become more agreeable. If you choose to breastfeed into toddlerhood, you may find that the “terrible twos” never materialize. 
  53. Breastfeeding acts like a natural tranquilizer for mom
    Nursing mothers often joke about falling asleep on the job. The sleep inducing qualities of nursing a baby are remarkable. In fact, new mothers have to be careful to hold a nursing baby in such a way that they will not drop the child when they inevitably nod off. Nursing in bed is a great solution. Even pumping at work can be a great way to calm down and get refocused during a stressful day. All this relaxation is caused by the hormone oxytocin, which is released each time a mother breastfeeds. It decreases blood pressure and clams the mother. Interestingly, one study found that there were far fewer incidences of domestic violence and sexual abuse in breastfeeding families.
    Acheston, L, “Family violence and breastfeeding” Arch. Fam. Med. 1995, 4:650-652
     
  54. Breast milk tastes better than formula
    Human breast milk is remarkably sweet and light. Formula is pasty and bland. Which would you rather eat? 
  55. Breastfed babies are healthier over-all
    Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest HMOs in the U.S. recently conducted internal research to determine the value of the company lactation support program. This research found that breastfed babies had many health advantages over formula-fed babies, including better over-all health.
    (Kaiser Permanente: Internal research to determine benefits of sponsoring an official lactation program) 
  56. Breastfed babies are less likely to die before their third birthday
    Not only are breastfed babies less liekly to contract life-threatening diseases, they are better able to combat any illnesses that may develop.
    Van Den Bogaard, C. “Relationship Between Breast Feeding in Early Childhood and Morbidity in a general Population.”Fan Med, 1991; 23:510-515 
  57. Breastfed babies require fewer doctor visits
    Since breastfed babies are statistically healthier, they see the doctor less often.
    (Kaiser Permanente: Internal research to determine benefits of sponsoring an official lactation program)
     
  58. Breastfeeding mothers spend less time and money on doctor visits
    In 1995 Kaiser-Permanente Health Maintenance Organization in North Carolina found that formula-fed babies averaged over $1,400 more per year in additional health care costs than breastfed infants.
    (Kaiser Permanente: Internal research to determine benefits of sponsoring an official lactation program)
     
  59. Fewer waste packaging products
    No wrappers, canisters, disposable bottles etc…
    “If every child in America were bottle-fed, almost 86,000 tons of tin would be needed to produce 550 million cans for one year’s worth of formula. If every mother in Great Britain breastfed, 3000 tons of paper (used for formula labels) would be saved in a year. But formula is not the only problem. Bottles and nipples require plastic, glass, rubber, and silicon; production of these materials can be resource-intensive and often leads to end-products that are not-recyclable. All these products use natural resources, cause pollution in their manufacture and distribution and create trash in their packaging, promotion, and disposal.”

    “Mother Nature Loves Breastmilk” D. Michels, Pub. various periodicals, available on Internet at http://members.aol.com/diamichels/greenbm.htm
     
  60. No bottles to tote
    Unless you’re pumping and transporting the milk for later. Even then there are fewer bottles to deal with. 
  61. Less cow induced global greenhouse gasses
    Ridiculous as it may sound, bovine flatulence is a huge contributor to the greenhouse gas problem. Aside from producing vast quantities of methane, cows also contribute their manure and urine to our rivers and ground water. 
  62. No need to refrigerate
    Of course, breast milk stays fresh because it’s made on demand. Even pumped breast milk keeps for a long time outside of the fridge.
    Medela guidelines for storing breast milk: http://www.medela.com/breastfeeding/howto/storing.html 
  63. Cows milk is designed for baby cows
    Human milk contains completely different proportions of protein, fat, carbohydrates. Cows milk is designed to help put on weight quickly, grow amazingly fast, and develop only as much brain power as a cow needs. The natural hormones in cows milk are geared toward cows, not humans. The fact that human beings can even drink the milk of another species in sort of amazing when you stop to think about it. 
  64. Human milk is designed for baby humans
    Baby cows probably wouldn’t do very well on it. It’s designed to build brains, and to foster gradual physical growth. 
  65. Natural pain relief for baby
    Breast milk actually contains chemicals that suppress pain (endorphins). Aside from this, the comfort a baby derives from being held close and suckling is remarkable. Many a bruise or scrape has been soothed away almost instantly by a few moments of nursing. If you choose to have your child vaccinated, it is a good idea to nurse immediately after he/she receives a vaccination. This soothes the hurt, as well as enhancing the vaccine’s effectiveness. 
  66. Perfect food for sick baby
    When a formula fed baby gets a gastrointestinal ailment they are usually put on an artificial electrolyte solution because formula is too hard for them to digest. Breast milk, however, is easily digested, and soothing to the intestines, so there is no need for artificial and expensive electrolyte solutions. If a baby gets a respiratory illness, formula may cause even more mucus. In contrast, breast milk contains antibodies to these ailments, as well as being highly digestible and not contributing to excess mucous formation. 
  67. More sleep for mom
    Especially if she sleeps with baby, but even if she doesn’t. No bottles to prepare and warm. Less time comforting a crying baby suffering from gas and allergies. 
  68. More sleep for baby
    A baby that gets its night time needs met quickly is more likely to get right back to sleep than a baby who has to wait for a bottle while crying and swallowing air. 
  69. More sleep for dad
    Again, even if he helps with baby burping, diapering, and baby toting, there are no bottles to deal with. Also, breastfed babies tend to need much less burping after the first few months. 
  70. Less equipment to maintain and store
    Those bottles, measuring devices, sterilizing equipment and other gadgets take up valuable shelf space and they all require cleaning. 
  71. Less equipment to buy
    If you don’t need or want to pump your milk, you will not need to purchase a single thing: your body has all the equipment build-in. Even if you do have to buy a pump and the basic bottle kit, the savings in cost of formula and additional medical attention make breastfeeding financially well worth trying. 
  72. Breast milk has never been recalled
    Formula has been, sometimes after causing injury or death. There were 22 “significant” recalls of formula including 7 potentially life threatening situations.
    Babbit, V, “FDA Recalls Baby Formula, 1998”, Breastfeeding.com, Inc.
     
  73. Fresh breast milk is never contaminated with bacteria
    In fact, it has antibacterial properties. 
  74. No need to worry about which brand is better
    Each artificial breast milk formula is different from all its competitors, but none of them come close to duplicating the real thing. It can be very stressful for formula feeding mothers to try to determine which brand is the best of the lot. No matter which formula is used “it is increasingly apparent that infant formula can never duplicate human milk. Human milk contains living cells, hormones, active enzymes, immunoglobulins and compounds with unique structures that cannot be replicated in infant formula.”
    (Quoted from FDA pediatric-nutrition researchers at Abbott Laboratories, writing in March, 1994 issue of Endocrine Regulations.)
     
  75. No need to worry about adding contaminated water
    Even in the U.S. our water can contain dangerous elements like arsenic, lead and aluminum. These contaminants can become concentrated if water is boiled to sterilize it before being added to formula. 
  76. Breastfeeding helps reduce cruelty to farm animals
    Less use of cow’s milk equals fewer cows equals less opportunity for animal abuse. 
  77. Facilitates proper dental and jaw development
    “Suckling at the breast is good for a baby’s tooth and jaw development. Babies at the breast have to use as much as 60 times more energy to get food than do those drinking from a bottle…As [the babies jaw] muscles are strenuously exercised in suckling, their constant pulling encourages the growth of well-formed jaws and straight, healthy teeth.”
    The Complete Book Of Breastfeeding M.S. Eiger. MD, S. Wendkos Olds, Copyright 1972, 1987 Comstock, Inc., Workman Publishing Co., Inc., 708 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

    “Among breastfed infants, the longer the duration of nursing the lower the incidents of malocclusion.”
    Labbok, M.H. “Does Breastfeeding Protect against Malocclusion? An Analysis of the 1981 Child Health Supplement to the National Health Interview Survey” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 1987
     
  78. Breastfed babies get fewer cavities
    Breast milk contains bacteria fighting cells that may help kill the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Furthermore, bottle-fed babies “are at increased risk for baby bottle caries, a destructive dental condition which occurs when a baby is put to bed with a bottle containing formula, milk, juice or other fluids high in carbohydrates. Extensive dental repair may be required at a cost of thousands of dollars.” Furthermore, breast milk contains bacteria fighting cells that may help kill the bacteria that cause tooth decay.
    Loesche WJ, “Nutrition and dental decay in infants.” Am J Clin Nutr 41; 423-435, 1985
    Lucas, A, Cole T, “Is Breast Feeding a Likely Cause of Dental Caries in young Children?” Journal of American Dental Assoc., 1979; 98:21-23
     
  79. Less money spent on corrective orthodontia
    The longer you breastfeed, the more likely the babies teeth will come in properly. If the teeth come in straight, there’s no need to fix them. 
  80. Better speech development
    Tongue thrust problems often develop among bottle-fed babies as they try to slow down the flow of milk coming from the artificial nipple. This can lead to speech problems, as well as “mouth breathing, lip biting, gum disease, and a generally unattractive appearance.”
    The Complete Book Of Breastfeeding M.S. Eiger. MD, S. Wendkos Olds, Copyright 1972, 1987 Comstock, Inc., Workman Publishing Co., Inc. 708 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
    Broad, Frances E., “The Effects of Infant Feeding on Speech Quality.” New Zealand Medical Journal, 1976; 76:28-31
     
  81. Less chance of baby getting eczema
    “We conclude that breastfeeding is prophylactic against atopic disease (eczema), the effect extending into early adulthood. Breastfeeding for longer than 1 month without other milk supplements offers significant prophylaxis against food allergy at 3 years of age, and also against respiratory allergy at 17 years of age. Six months of breastfeeding is required to prevent eczema during the first 3 years, and possibly also to prevent substantial atopy in adolescence.” The differences by infant feeding method were so pronounced that they “suggested an influence of early milk feeding that may exceed the heredity burden.
    Saarinen UM, Kajosaari M. “Breastfeeding as prophylaxis against atopic disease: prospective follow-up study until 17 years of age.” Lancet. 1995; 346:1065-69.

    Eczema was less common and milder in babies who were breast fed (22%) and whose Mothers were on a restricted diet (48%). In infants fed casein hydrolysate, soymilk, or cows milk, 21%, 63% and 70% respectively, developed atopic eczema.
    Chandra R.K., “Influence of Maternal Diet During Lactation and the Use of Formula Feed an Development of Atopic Eczema in the High Risk Infants”. Br Med J. 1989
     
  82. Breastfed babies have great skin
    You don’t have to refer to the many studies showing that breastfed babies have less eczema and fewer rashes. Check out the skin of a breastfed baby and see what you think. 
  83. Less gastrointestinal reflux (Spit-up)
    Breastfed neonates demonstrate gastroesophageal reflux episodes of significantly shorter duration that formula fed neonates.
    Heacock, H.J. “Influence of Breast vs Formula Milk in Physiologic Gastroesophageal Reflux in Healthy Newborn Infants”. Jour. Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr, 1992 January; 14(1): 41-6
     
  84. Easier to clean spit-up stains
    O.K. This is only based on a casual survey of a lot of breastfeeding mothers. We notice that the hand-me-down clothes we receive from bottle-fed babies have nasty brown staining all over the collars and fronts. Our breastfed babies never seemed to create these sorts of spit-up stains. In fact, after the first month or so, they don’t spit up much anyway. How many newborn breastfed babies do you see wearing bibs all the time? 
  85. Breast milk contains no genetically engineered materials
    Most consumers are completely unaware of how much genetically engineered food they are consuming because the U.S. government does not require this food to be labeled as such. Genetic ID, a company in Fairfield, Iowa, tested four soy-based baby formulas for genetically engineered ingredients. All four, Carnation Alsoy, Similac Neocare, Isomil and Enfamil Prosobee, tested positive.
    (See “Biotechnology’s Bounty”, M.Burros, N.Y. Times 05/21/97
     
  86. Breast Milk contains no synthetic growth hormones
    Since many cows in the U.S. are now routinely ingesting synthetic growth hormones to artificially increase their milk production, it stands to reason that these hormones are also getting into the U.S. formulas. 
  87. Lack of breastfeeding associated with multiple sclerosis in later life
    Although thought to be multifactorial in origin, and without a clearly defined etiology, lack of breastfeeding does appear to be associated with an increased incidence of multiple sclerosis.
    Dick, G. “The Etiology of Multiple Sclerosis.” Proc Roy Soc Med 1989;69;611-5
     
  88. Less chance of inguinal hernia
    The inguinal canal brings down the spermatic cord and certain vessels to the groin area . A hernia is a defect in the opening where these things pass through from the abdomen to the groin because the canal opening gets too big or tears off. The hernia allows abdominal contents to get down into the groin area.
    Breastfeeding is protective against inguinal hernias. For unknown reasons breastfed babies experience significantly fewer of them. Human milk contains gonadotropin releasing hormone, which may affect the maturation of neonatal testicular function. One recent case control study showed breastfed infants had a significant dose response reduction in inguinal hernia.

    Pisacane, A. “Breast-feeding and inguinal hernia” Journal of Pediatrics 1995: Vol 127, No. 1, pp 109-111
     
  89. Better cognitive development
    In 771 low birth weight infants, babies whose mothers chose to provide breast milk had an 8 point advantage in mean Bayley’s mental developmental index over infants of mothers choosing not to do so.
    Morley, R., “Mothers Choice to provide Breast Milk and Developmental Outcome”. Arch Dis Child, 1988
     
  90. Better social development
    The psychomotor and social development of breastfed babies clearly differs from that of bottle fed ones and leads at the age of 12 months to significant advantages of the psychomotor and social capabilities.
    Baumgartner, C.,”Psychomotor and Social Development of Breast Fed and Bottle Fed babies During their First year of Life”. Acta Paediatrica Hungarica, 1984
     
  91. Decreased risk of baby developing urinary tract infections
    (Kaiser Permanente: Internal research to determine benefits of sponsoring an official lactation program) 
  92. Suckling optimizes hand-to-eye coordination
    Baumgartner, C., “Psychomotor and Social Development of Breast Fed and Bottle Fed babies During their First year of Life”. Acta Paediatrica Hungarica 1984; 25(4): 409-17 
  93. Protects mothers against anemia (iron deficiency)
    Since many exclusively breastfeeding mothers do not begin to menstruate for a year or longer their iron stores are not depleted by monthly bleeding during this time. 
  94. Less money spent on menstrual supplies for mom
    Many breastfeeding moms do not begin to menstruate again until 14 or more months after giving birth. ” Multiply this by the four million US births each year to see that over one billion sanitary products annually could be kept out of our nation’s landfills and sewers. To compound the scenario, because breast milk is absorbed by babies more efficiently, breastfed babies excrete less and thus require fewer diaper changes than formula-fed babies.”
    “Mother Nature Loves Breastmilk” D. Michels, Pub. various periodicals, available on Internet at http://members.aol.com/diamichels/greenbm.htm
     
  95. Self confidence booster for mom
    There is nothing more amazing than looking at a plump six month old baby and knowing that the only nutrition this happy little creature has received has come from your own body. 
  96. Breast milk may help combat eye infections
    Breast milk contains natural antibiotic qualities, and many mothers swear that a squirt in the irritated eye of their baby has cleared up the problem in short order. 
  97. Breast milk may be a good natural antibiotic for wounds
    No one is suggesting you throw away that tube of triple antibiotic cream just yet, but bacteria cannot survive long in fresh breast milk. Some mothers swear it helps prevent scrapes and scratches from getting infected. 
  98. No worry about latest ingredient discovered to be missing from formula
    “Formula” is really a formula for synthetic human milk. There is no real formula that can duplicate human milk because, as the FDA recognized in a recent statement, “…the exact chemical makeup of breast milk is still unknown.”
    “Formula-fed infants depend on products which can be quite different from each other, but which are continually being found deficient in essential nutrients… These nutrients are then added, usually after damage has occurred in infants or overwhelming market pressure forces the issue.”

    M. Walker, R.N., International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, The Journal of Human Lactation, Sept 1993
     
  99. Much nicer diaper changes
    The bowel movements of breastfed babies smell mild and inoffensive. The same can not be said about those of formula fed babies. Try changing a few formula fed babies if you are uncertain about wanting to try breastfeeding! 
  100. Breastfed babies smell fantastic
    No scientific study needed here. There is something almost magical about the scent of your own breastfed baby, whether you’re the mother or father involved. Try it, you’ll like it! 
  101. It’s what breasts were designed for!

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