Studies Confirm the Power of Breastfeeding

Studies Confirm the Power of Breastfeeding


Guest blog post by Tanya, IBCLC

Each year brings new research findings about the power of breastfeeding and breastmilk, and 2017 was no exception. Below are some of the highlights in breastfeeding research this year:

Breastfeeding may reduce the risk of SIDS by up to 64%: “Researchers found that any breastfeeding for two to four months reduced risk by 40%; any breastfeeding for four to six months reduced risk by 60%; and longer than six months reduced risk by 64%. Breastfeeding for less than two months didn't offer protection, researchers found. This is the first study determining a length of time a mother should breastfeed for SIDs protection.”

Breastfed babies start life with more diverse microbiomes: “New UC Davis research shows that babies who are breastfed start out with more diverse microbiomes, which protect them from obesity, allergies and other chronic diseases later in life.”

30% of beneficial bacteria in infants' gut comes from breastmilk, and 10% comes from skin on the mother's breast: “Study finds that 30 percent of the beneficial bacteria in a baby's intestinal tract come directly from mother's milk, and an additional 10 percent comes from skin on the mother's breast.”

Sugars in breastmilk kill bacteria by sensitizing and then killing them: “Our results show that these sugars have a one-two punch,' Townsend says. 'First, they sensitize the target bacteria and then they kill them. Biologists sometimes call this ‘synthetic lethality’ and there is a major push to develop new antimicrobial drugs with this capability.”

Breastfeeding is associated with lower risk of heart disease and stroke in mothers: “In the observational study, researchers analyzed data on 289,573 women in China and found that those who breastfeed were almost 10% less likely to develop heart disease and stroke than mothers who said they had never breastfed. The study found that there was an even lower risk for those who breastfed their babies for two years or more.”

Breastfeeding is associated with lower risk of endometriosis in mothers: “Compared with women who nursed for less than a month per pregnancy, those who nursed for a year or more had a 32 percent reduced risk for endometriosis. For each additional three months of nursing, they reduced their risk by 8 percent.”

Breastfeeding is associated with more maternal sensitivity to children's needs: “A study published in the journal Developmental Psychology finds mothers who breastfed for longer periods of time are more responsive to their kids' needs a full decade into their young lives.”

Breastfed children are more likely to eat vegetables: “New research from the Monell Chemical Senses Centre in Philadelphia claims that babies who are exposed to vegetables while being breastfed are more likely to want to eat vegetables when they’re able to process solid foods.”

Breastfeeding is associated with lower risk of Crohn's Disease and ulcerative colitis: “Breastfeeding in infancy protects against the development of CD and ulcerative colitis.”

Breastfeeding is associated with lower risk of asthma in infants: “Modes of infant feeding are associated with asthma development. Direct breastfeeding is most protective compared with formula feeding; indirect breast milk confers intermediate protection. Policies that facilitate and promote direct breastfeeding could have an impact on the primary prevention of asthma.”

Breastfeeding is associated with lower chronic pain for mothers after c-section: “A team of researchers from a hospital in Spain found that women who breastfeed their babies for at least 2 months post-surgery were three times less likely to experience continual pain compared to women who breastfed for less than two months.”

Breastfeeding is associated with lower risk of uterine cancer in mothers: “Findings show the risk of developing uterine cancer dropped by about 7 percent among women who breastfed for between three and six months, and 11 percent for those who breastfed for six to nine months, compared to women who didn't breastfeed.”

Breastfeeding is associated with lower risk of mothers developing multiple sclerosis: “According to a study published in this month’s online issue of Neurology, women who breastfeed for 15 months or more may be less likely to develop this chronic autoimmune disease.”

Breastfeeding is associated with lower risk of developing breast cancer among mothers: “Researchers from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund analyzed 18 studies that examined breastfeeding.  Of these, 13 investigated the effects of the length of time spent lactating.  Results reveal that for every five months a woman breastfeeds, her risk of breast cancer is reduced by two percent.”

Breastfeeding is associated with a lower risk of eczema in children: “Experts say the latest study highlights the benefits of breast milk, and of programmes promoting the practice, finding that children whose mothers attended a hospital where a breastfeeding support programme was implemented had a 54% reduction in the risk of eczema as teenagers.”

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