Researchers at the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute and  UC Davis Health System who published their findings in the Journal of Pediatrics showed that black infants had more than twice the deaths of whites attributable to lack of optimal breastfeeding.

What is optimal breast feeding?

The authors defined optimal breast feeding as, “exclusively for the first six months of life, followed by continued breastfeeding while complementary foods are introduced for at least the first year of life.” 

What did the researchers find?

  • Premature babies were less likely to have intestinal problems such as necrotizing enterocolitis which is a disease that affects the bowel. The intestine is damaged and begins to die off which can lead to perforations in the bowel as well as death. 
  • Babies who were breast feed were also noted to have lower rates of ear infections.

Reference

Melissa C. Bartick, MD, MSc, Briana J. Jegier, PhD, Brittany D. Green, MS, Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, MD, MS, Arnold G. Reinhold, MBA, Alison M. Stuebe, MD, MScin Breastfeeding: Impact on Maternal and Child Health Outcomes and Costs, The Journal of Pediatrics (2016).More reading

Link for original article-http://www.jpeds.com/article/S0022-3476(16)31096-4/abstract

What do we know about breast feeding (American Academy of Pediatrics)

  • The lowest rates of breast feeding  was seen among non-Hispanic black mothers who were younger than 20 years, the breastfeeding initiation rate was only 30%.
  • Breast fed babies had a lower rate of pneumonia, “The risk of hospitalization for lower respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia in the first year  of life was reduced 72% in infants breastfed exclusively for more than 4 months.”
  • For those who did get sick, the oxygen requirement and length of hospital stay were shorter in those who breast fed.
  • There are less ear infections in those babies who were breast fed, “Any breastfeeding compared with exclusive commercial infant formula feeding will reduce the incidence of otitis media by 23%.”
  • The babies who were breast fed experienced less gastrointestinal problems. “There is a reduction of 52% in the risk of developing celiac disease in infants who were breastfed at the time of gluten exposure.”
  • Lower risk of SIDS, “Breastfeeding is associated with a 36% reduced risk of Sudden Infant Death syndrome.”
  • Lower risk of allergies, “There is a protective effect of exclusive breastfeeding for 3 to 4 months in reducing the incidence of clinical asthma, atopic dermatitis, and eczema by 27% in a low-risk population and up to 42% in infants with positive family history.
  • Lower risk of obesity as an adolescent if they were breast fed.
  • Lower risk of diabetes if they were breast fed, “Up to a 30% reduction in the incidence of type 1 diabetes mellitus is reported for infants who exclusively breastfed for at least 3 months.”
  • Lower risk of leukemia, “A reduction of 20% in the risk of acute lymphocytic leukemia and 15% in the risk of acute myeloid leukemia in infants breastfed for 6 months or longer.”
  • Children who were breast fed appear to have higher cognitive skills, “In addition, higher intelligence scores are noted in infants who exclusively breastfed for 3 months or longer, and higher teacher ratings were observed if exclusive breastfeeding was practiced for 3 months or longer.”

Preparing breast milk (CDC recommendations)

  • Be sure to wash your hands before expressing or handling breast milk.
  • Use clean containers (glass is preferable to plastic)
  • Clearly label the milk with the date it was expressed.
  • Clean breast pump parts after each use.
  • Try not to microwave, it cooks unevenly and could destroy the nutrients. The milk can be heated in a pot of warm water.

Are there any benefits to the Mother

  • There is a lowered risk of postpartum bleeding, as the hormones that help with breastfeeding also make the uterus shrink.
  • According to the Academy of pediatrics, “Breastfeeding mothers return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster.”
  • There is a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
  • There appears to be less risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

Breast feeding diet

  • There should be an average daily intake of 200 to 300 mg of the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (docosahexaenoic acid-DHA] to guarantee a sufficient amount of DHA In the breast milk.
  • There is no consensus for maternal supplements during lactation.
  • The USDA suggests, “Vitamin and supplements cannot replace a healthy diet.  In addition to eating a healthy diet, you may need a multivitamin and mineral supplement.  Talk with your doctor or health care provider about taking a supplement, and follow his or her advice. Be sure to tell your doctor  about any supplements you are already taking, to protect yourself against taking too much.”

Contraindications to breast feeding (CDC)

  • An infant diagnosed with galactosemia, a rare genetic metabolic disorder

The infant whose mother:

  • Has been infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Is taking HIV medications
  • Has untreated  tuberculosis
  • Is using or is dependent upon an illicit drug
  • Is taking prescribed cancer chemotherapy agents, such as antimetabolites that interfere with DNA replication and cell division
  • Is undergoing radiation therapies; however, such nuclear medicine therapies require only a temporary interruption in breastfeeding.

How do you feel about breast feeding?

benefits of breast feeding

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