9 Health Benefits of Breastfeeding for Child and Mother

Breast milk is the most ideal and valuable food for the growing infant since it suffices most of the nutritional requirements if given adequately and in appropriate manner.

The benefit of the breastfeeding has been well-established. In comparison to partial breast feeding, exclusive breastfeeding has even more benefits.

Exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) means providing only breast milk to the infants; no other liquids or solids including water, except oral rehydration solution or drops/syrups of vitamins, minerals, or medicines.

Breast milk is the ideal food for physical and mental growth and development of all infants. It contains all essential nutrients including carbohydrates, essential fats, proteins, minerals, and immunological factors.

Breast feeding is considered as a cost effective infant-feeding method for families and society can reduce the risk of communicable and non-communicable childhood diseases. Breast feeding practices in mother can protect against breast and ovarian cancer in them.

Breastfeeding protects against diarrhea and common childhood illnesses such as pneumonia. It also has long term health benefits for the mother and child, such as reducing the risk of obesity in childhood and adolescence.

Breastfeeding has relationship with a higher intelligence quotient (IQ) in children. There are significant benefits of EBF not only for infants but also for the mother and society.

Various researches have shown that breast milk is important for physical, neurological, and cognitive development of child that can reduces risks of allergies, infection, and non-communicable diseases during later stages of their development.

Mother Milk has Many Benefits:

• It’s easier for your baby to digest.
• It doesn’t need to be prepared.
• It’s always available.
• It has all the nutrients, calories, and fluids your baby needs to be healthy.
• It has growth factors that ensure the best development of your baby’s organs
• It has many substances that formulas don’t have that help protect your baby from many diseases and infections.

A breastfed baby is less likely than a formula fed baby to suffer from:

• Diarrhea
• Ear Infections/Allergies
• Meningitis
• Obesity
• Pneumonia
• Wheezing
• Respiratory problems
• Vomiting
• Immune Protection
• IBD
• SIDS
• Bronchiolitis
• Other bacterial and viral infections

Breastfeeding Benefits

Health Benefits of Breastfeeding for Child and Mother:

1. Prevention of Infections: The preventive effect on infections is by far the most important health benefit in relation to breastfeeding. Human milk feeding decreases the incidence and/or severity of a wide range of infectious diseases.

2. Immune Protection: Regarding allergies, exclusive breastfeeding for 3 to 4 months can result in a lower incidence of asthma, atopic dermatitis and eczema. Women with a family history of allergy should breastfeed their infants like everyone else.

3. Celiac Disease: There is a reduction of 52% in the risk of developing celiac disease in infants who were breastfed at the time of gluten exposure. In general, there is a connection between increased duration of breastfeeding and reduced risk of celiac disease when measured as the presence of celiac  antibodies.

4. IBD: Breastfeeding is associated with a 31% reduction in the risk of childhood inflammatory bowel disease.  That is considered to be the result of an interaction between the immunoglobulating effect of human milk and the genetic susceptibility of the infant.

5. Overweight Obesity: Numerous studies have investigated whether or not breastfeeding can reduce the risk of obesity. It seems that with any breastfeeding there is a 15% to 30% reduction of obesity rates in adolescence and adulthood.

6. Diabetes: Some studies also suggest reduction in incidence of insulin – dependent (type 1) (up to 30% for infants who exclusively breastfed for 3 months) and non insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes mellitus (40%, possibly reflecting the long-term positive effect of breastfeeding on weight control and feeding self regulation).

7. SIDS: Some studies suggest it decreases the rates of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in the first year of life.

8. Malignant Disease: Breast milk may have a role in the prevention of malignant disease by stimulating or modulating the immune response and promoting its development in early life. This protection of having been breastfed for 6 months or longer includes a 20% lower risk for acure lymphatic leukemia and a 15% lower risk for acute myeloid leukemia.

9. Neurodevelopment Outcomes: Available evidence suggests that breastfeeding may be associated with a small but measurable advantage in cognitive development that persists into adulthood. Although the effect size of cognitive benefits may not be of major importance for an individual, it could provide a significant advantage on a population basis.

Conclusion:

Research and practice have shown that breastfeeding and human milk can offer significant nutritional and non-nutritional benefits to the infant and the mother and lay the foundations for optimal infant, child and adult health as well as child development. Therefore, the support of breastfeeding should be seriously viewed as a major public health issue.

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