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Breastfeeding Facts to Know and Discuss

It's breastfeeding month—talk among yourselves

Tell them what the research says. There is no replacement. Breastfeeding is normal, natural and necessary for optimal health.

There should be no question. The evidence is overwhelming regarding the quality difference between formula and breastfeeding.

Breast Milk vs Formula Contents1-3

Thousands of ingredients vs. A few dozen ingredients

Needed minerals, vitamins vs. Subset of minerals and vitamins

Primarily lactose vs. Primarily cow milk protein

Fats vs. Fats (non-human)

Protein vs. Protein  (non-human)

Water vs. Water

200 essential fatty acids vs. Synthetic DHA and ARA

Antibodies for local infectious agents vs. NONE

Hormones for brain development and relationship building vs. NONE

Anti-viruses vs. NONE

Anti-allergies vs. NONE

Anti-Parasites vs. NONE

Growth factors vs. NONE

Digestive enzymes vs. NONE

 

In babies, breast milk protects against:

  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome4-10
  • High Blood Pressure11-13
  • High Cholesterol14
  • Cancer15,16
  • Diabetes17-20
  • Obesity21-29
  • Depression30
  • Allergies31
  • Ear infections32
  • Dental problems33
  • Respiratory problems34

Benefits for Mothers

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  • Protects against breast and ovarian cancer35-41
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes42,43
  • Reduces pregnancy weight gain faster44,45
  • Reduces depressive symptoms42, 47-48
  • Encourages bonding with the baby42
  • Encourages nighttime sleeping49-52
  • Postpones ovulation53

Breast milk builds the immune system properly.

Breast milk contains thousands of ingredients that build the child’s immune system and prevent diseases and infections.1,2  Breastmilk contains:

  • Immunoglobulins that play a part in protecting infants from microorganisms. Colostrum contains high levels of Secretory IgA, an immunoglobulin that provides intestinal protection for young infants against poliovirus and harmful bacteria like E. coli.54
  • Lymphoid cells that produce IgA and mediate cellular immunity54
  • Leukocytes play a part in preventing infection in the infant’s gastrointestinal tract55
  • Lactoferrin binds the iron in germs that cause gastrointestinal infection, which stops their infectious action in the infant’s gut56
  • Appropriate levels of cholesterol and polyunsaturated fatty acids that are used in brain tissue development and myelinization57

Breast milk changes with the growing nutritional needs of the child.

Breastmilk contains all the nutrition a baby needs for development during the first six months of life3 and provides additional nutrition and immune system protection throughout the process.

Formula is inflexible, staying the same feeding after feeding whereas breastmilk changes:

  • flavor with maternal diet, preparing the palate for a wide range of tastes58,59
  • antibodies for local infectious agents54
  • contents based on time of day60
  • fat, protein content with needs of the growing child61

 

Breastfeeding allows the child to regulate his own body and feedings.  

A breastfeeding child develops strong facial muscles, which align jaws and teeth in the growing baby.62

 

Part TWO: Stand up for breastfeeding

 

References

1) Walker, M. (1993). A fresh look at the risks of artificial infant feeding. Journal of Human Lactation, 9(2), 97-107.

2) Goldman, A.S. Goldblum, R.M., & Hanson, L.A. (1990). Anti-inflammatory systems in human milk.  Adv Exp Med Biol, 262, 69-76.

3) Horta B.L., Bahl R., Martinés J.C., Victoria, C.G. (2007). Evidence on the long-term effects of breastfeeding: systematic review and meta-analyses. Geneva: World Health Organization; 1-57.

 4) Horne R.S., Parslow P.M., Ferens D., Watts A.M., Adamson T.M. (2004). Comparison of evoked arousability in breast and formula fed infants. Arch Dis Child, 89(1), 22-5.

5) Ford R.P., Taylor B.J., Mitchell E.A., Enright, S.A., Stewart, A.W., Becroft, D.M., Scragg, R., Hassall, I.B., Barry, D.M., Allen, E.M., & Roberts, A.P. (1993). Breastfeeding and the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Int J Epidemiol., 22, 885- 890.

6) Mitchell E.A., Taylor B.J., Ford R.P.K., Stweart, A.W., Becroft, D.M.O., Thompson, J.M.D., Scragg, R., Hassall, I.B., Barry, D.M.J., Allen, E.M., & Roberts, A.P. (1992). Four modifiable and other major risk factors for cot death: the New Zealand study. J Paediatr Child Health, 28(suppl 1), S3-S8.

7) Scragg L.K., Mitchell E.A., Tonkin S.L., & Hassall I.B. (1993). Evaluation of the cot death prevention programme in South Auckland. N Z Med J., 106, 8-10.

8) Alm B., Wennergren G., Norvenius S.G., Skjaerven, R., Lagercrantz, H., Helweg-Larsen, K., & Irgens, L.M. (2002). Breast feeding and the sudden infant death syndrome in Scandinavia, 1992-95, Arch Dis Child, 86, 400-2.

9) McVea K.L., Turner P.D., & Peppler D.K. (2000). The role of breastfeeding in sudden infant death syndrome. J Hum Lact.,16, 13-20.

10) Mosko S., Richard C., & McKenna J. (1997) Infant arousals during mother-infant bed sharing: implications for infant sleep and sudden infant death syndrome research. Pediatrics,100, 841- 849.

11) Horta B.L., Bahl R., Martinés J.C., Victoria, C.G. (2007). Evidence on the long-term effects of breastfeeding: systematic review and meta-analyses. Geneva: World Health Organization; 1-57.

12) Owen C.G., Whincup P.H., Gilg J.A., & Cook, D.G. (2003). Effect of breast feeding in infancy on blood pressure in later life: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ, 327, 1189-1195.

13) Martin R.M., Gunnell D., & Smith G.D. (2005). Breastfeeding in infancy and blood pressure in later life: systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Epidemiol., 161, 15-26.

14) Owen C.G., Whincup P.H., Odoki K., Gilg J.A., & Cook D.G. (2002). Infant feeding and blood cholesterol: a study in adolescents and a systematic review. Pediatrics, 110, 597-608.

15) Ip S., Chung M., Raman G., Chew,P., Magula, N., Devine, D., Trikalinos, T., & Lau, J. (2007). Breastfeeding and maternal and infant health outcomes in developed countries. Evid Rep Technol Assess (Full Rep), 153, 1-186.

16) Kwan M.L., Buffler P.A., Abrams B., & Kiley, V.A. (2004). Breastfeeding and the risk of childhood leukemia: a meta-analysis. Public Health Rep., 119, 521-535.

17) Gerstein H.C. (1994). Cow's milk exposure and type 1 diabetes mellitus. A critical overview of the clinical literature. Diabetes Care, 17, 13-19.

18) Kostraba J.N., Cruickshanks K.J., Lawler-Heavner J., Jobim, L.F., Rewers, M.J., Gay, E.C., Chase, H.P., Klingensmith, G., & Hamman, R.F. (1993). Early exposure to cow's milk and solid foods in infancy, genetic predisposition, and the risk of IDDM. Diabetes, 42, 288-295.

19) Pettit D.J., Forman M.R., Hanson R.L., Knowler W.C., & Bennett P.H. (1997). Breast-feeding and the incidence of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in Pima Indians. Lancet, 350, 166-168.

20) Perez-Bravo E., Carrasco E., Guitierrez-Lopez M.D., Martinez M.T., Lopez G., de los Rios M.G. (1996). Genetic predisposition and environmental factors leading to the development of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in Chilean children. J Mol Med, 74, 105-109.

21) Singhal A., Farooqi I.S., O'Rahilly S., Cole T.J., & Fewtrell M., (2002). Lucas A. Early nutrition and leptin concentrations in later life. Am J Clin Nutr, 75, 993-999.

22) Armstrong J. & Reilly J.J. (2002) Child Health Information Team. Breastfeeding and lowering the risk of childhood obesity. Lancet, 359, 2003-4.

23) Dewey K.G., Heinig M.J., Nommsen L.A., Peerson J.M., & Lonnerdal B. (1993). Breast-fed infants are leaner than formula-fed infants at 1 year of age: the DARLING study. Am J Clin Nutr, 57, 140-145.

24) Arenz S., Ruckerl R., Koletzko B., & Von Kries R. (2004). Breast-feeding and childhood obesity-a systematic review. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord, 28, 1247-1256.

25) Grummer-Strawn, L.M. & Mei, Z. (2004). Does breastfeeding protect against pediatric overweight? Analysis of longitudinal data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System. Pediatrics, 113(2), e81-e86.

26) Stettler, N., Zemel, B.S., Kumanyika, S., & Stallings, V.A. (2002). Infant weight gain and childhood overweight status in a multicenter, cohort study. Pediatrics, 109, 194-199.

27) Gillman, M.W., Rifas-Shiman, S.L., Camargo, C.A., Berkey, C.S., Frazier, A.L., Rocket, R.H., Field, A.E., & Colditz, G.A. (2001). Risk of overweight among adolescents who were breastfed as infants. JAMA, 285, 2461-2467.

28) Toschke, A.M., Vignerova, J., Lhotska, L., Osancova, K., Koletzko, B., & von Kries, R. (2002). Overweight and obesity in 6- to 14-year old Czech children in 1991: protective effect of breast-feeding. J Pediatr, 141, 764-769.

29) American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Nutrition. (2003). Prevention of pediatric overweight and obesity. Pediatrics, 112, 424– 430.

30) Oddy, W. H., Kendall, G. E., Li, J., Jacoby, P., Robinson, M., de Klerk, N. H., et al. (2010). The long-term effects of breastfeeding on child and adolescent mental health: A pregnancy cohort study followed for 14 years. The Journal of Pediatrics, 156(4), 568-574.

31) Friedman, N. & Zeiger, R. (2005). The role of breast-feeding in the development of allergies and asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol, 115(6), 1238-48.

32) Duncan, B., Ey, J., Holberg, C.J., Wright, A.L., Martinez, F.D., & Taussig, L.M. (1993). Exclusive breast-feeding for at least 4 months protects against otitis media. Pediatrics, 91, 867-72.

33) Stuebe, A. (2009). The Risks of Not Breastfeeding for Mothers and Infants. Reviews in Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2(4), 222-231.

34) Chaulada, P.C. Arbes Jr., S.J., Dunson, D., & Zeldin, D.C. (2003). Breast-feeding and the prevalence of asthma and wheeze in children: analyses from the Third National Health and Nutrition Survey, 1988-1994. J Allergy Clin Immunol, 111, 328-36.

35) Newcomb, P.A., Storer, B.E., Longnecker, M.P., Mittendorf, R., Greenberg, E.R., Clap, R.W., Burke, K.P., Willett, W.C., & MacMahon, B. (1994). Lactation and a reduced risk of premenopausal breast cancer. N Engl J Med, 330, 81–87.

36) Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer. (2002). Breast cancer and breastfeeding: collaborative reanalysis of individual data from 47 epidemiological studies in 30 countries, including 50302 women with breast cancer and 96973 women without the disease. Lancet, 360, 187–195.

 37) Lee, S.Y., Kim, M.T., Kim, S.W., Song, M.S., & Yoon S.J. (2003). Effect of lifetime lactation on breast cancer risk: a Korean women’s cohort study. Int J Cancer, 105, 390-393.

38) Tryggvadottir, L., Tulinius, H., Eyfjord, J.E., & Sigurvinsson, T. (2001). Breastfeeding and reduced risk of breast cancer in an Icelandic cohort study. Am J Epidemiol, 154, 37–42.

39) Enger, S.M., Ross, R.K., Paganini-Hill, A., & Bernstein, L (1998). Breastfeeding experience and breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 7, 365–369.

40) Jernstrom, H., Lubinski, J., Lynch, H.T., Ghadirian, P., Neuhausen, S., Isaacs, C., Weber, .L., Horsman, D., Rosen, B., Foulkes, W.D., Friedman, E., Gershoni-Baruch, R., Ainsworth, P., Daly, M., Garber, J., Olsson, H., Sun, P., & Narod, S.A. (2004). Breast-feeding and the risk of breast cancer in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers. J Natl Cancer Inst, 96, 1094–1098.

41) Rosenblatt, K.A., & Thomas, D.B. (1993). Lactation and the risk of epithelial ovarian cancer. WHO Collaborative Study of Neoplasia and Steroid contraceptives. Int J Epidemiol, 22, 192–197.

 42) Labbok, M.H. (2001). Effects of breastfeeding on the mother. Pediatr Clin North Am, 48, 143–158.

43) Stuebe, A.M., Rich-Edwards, J.W., Willet, W.C., Manson, J.E., & Michels, K.B. (2005). Duration of lactation and incidence of Type 2 Diabetes. JAMA, 294(20), 2601-10.

44) Dewey, K.G., Heinig, M.J., & Nommsen, L.A. (1993). Maternal weight-loss patterns during prolonged lactation. Am J Clin Nutr, 58, 162–166.

45) Harder, T. Bergmann, R., Kallischnigg, G., & Plagemann, A. (2005). Duration of breastfeeding and risk of overweight: A meta-analysis. Am J Epidemiol, 397-403.

46) Coles, J. (2009). Qualitative study of breastfeeding after childhood sexual assault. J Hum Lact, 25(3), 317-24.

47) Mezzacappa, E.S. (2004). Breastfeeding and maternal stress response and health. Nutr Rev, 62(7 pt. 1), 261-8.

48) Mezzacappa, E.S. & Katlin, E.S. (2002). Breast-feeding is associated with reduced perceived stress and negative mood in mothers. Br J Rheumatol, 34(6), 542-6.

49) Blair PS, Fleming PJ, Smith IJ, et al. Babies sleeping with parents: case-control study of factors influencing the risk of the sudden infant death syndrome. BMJ. 1999;319:1457–1462

50) Keefe MR. The impact of infant rooming-in on maternal sleep at night. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 1988;17:122-126.

51) Ball, H.L. (2003). Breastfeeding, bed-sharing, and infant sleep. Birth, 30(3), 181-8.

52) Doan, T., Gardiner, A., Gay, C.L., & Lee, K.A. (2007). Breast-feeding increases sleep duration of new parents.  J Perinat Neonatal Nurs, 21(3), 200-6.

53) Habicht, J., Davanzo, J., Butz, W. & Meyers, L. (1985). The Contraceptive Role of Breastfeeding. Population Studies. 39 (2), 213-232

54) Nathavitharana, K.A., Catty, D., & McNeish, A.S. (1994). IgA antibodies in human milk: epidemiological markers of previous infections? Archives of Disease in Childhood, 71, F192-F197.

55) Pitt, J. (1976). Breast milk leukocytes. Pediatrics, 58(5), 769-70.

56) Lonnerdal, B. & Iyer, S. (1995). Lactoferrin: Molecular structure and biological function.  Annual Review of Nutrition, 15, 93-110.

57) Innis, S.M. (2004). Polyunsaturated fatty acids in human milk: An essential role in infant development. In L.K. Pickering, A.L. Morrow, G.M. Ruiz-Palacios, & R.J. Schanler (Eds.), Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, Volume 554 (27-44). New York, NY: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.

58) Galloway, A.T., Lee, Y., & Birch, L.L. (2003). Predictors and consequences of food neophobia and pickiness in young girls.  J Am Diet Assoc, 103(6), 692-8.

59) Sullivan, S.A. & Birch, L.L. (1994). Infant dietary experience and acceptance of solid foods. Pediatrics, 93(2), 271-7.

60) Hibberd, C.M., Brooke, O.G., Carter, N.D., Haug, M., & Harzer, G. (1982). Variation in the composition of breast milk during the first 5 weeks of lactation: implications for the feeding of preterm infants, Archives of Disease in Childhood, 57, 658-62.

54) Nathavitharana, K.A., Catty, D., & McNeish, A.S. (1994). IgA antibodies in human milk: epidemiological markers of previous infections? Archives of Disease in Childhood, 71, F192-F197.

 61) Karra, M.V., Shobha, M.S., Udipi, A., Kirksey, A., & Roepke, J.L.B. (1986). Changes in specific nutrients in breast milk during extended lactation. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 43, 495-503.

62) Peres, K.G., Barros, A.J.D., Peres, A.M., & Victora, C.G. (2007). Effects of breastfeeding and sucking habits on malocclusion in a birth cohort.  Rev. Saude Publica, 41(3), 343-50.

 

*Information from the brochure, Facts about FEEDING BABIES: For medical personnel by the University of Notre Dame Breastfeeding Education Project (Members: Dr. Darcia Narvaez, Stephanie Sieswerda, Elizabeth Ledden, Abbey Warkentin, Karly Denkhaus; 2011) in consultation with the Saint Joseph County Breastfeeding Coalition, Indiana, USA.

Darcia Narvaez is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame and Executive Editor of the Journal of Moral Education.

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