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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

  • 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


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*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.