Question: Why am I writing about this in a nutrition blog? Answer: Breastmilk is a major source of nutrition during a critical developmental period
Anyway, at Penn State I was able to take a breastfeeding (BF= breastfeeding, not boyfriend or best friend) lecture series through one of my courses, and then during the dietetic internship we had opportunities to learn about the benefits. Also, I try to keep up on my BF research because it is always a topic of conversation with my older friends and cousins who are having babies.
Here are the basic facts showing why BF is a good choice:
- On average, women will burn an extra 350-500 calories/day during lactation, and therefore, it is an easy way to help get rid of the extra “baby weight”
- BF is cheap. If you don’t need to lose weight, the extra 400 calories/day can be supplemented by 4 tbsp of peanut butter, which ends up costing about $0.33/day(assuming 15 tbsp/container, $2.50/container) versus on average $5.00/day for formula (see http://www.suite101.com/content/cost-comparison-of-breastfeeding-and-formula-a128286 for a more detailed analysis of all products needed for both options).
- BF forms a bond between mother and child
- Many other reasons not really related to nutrition…..
- Breastmilk contains anti-bodies that formula cannot provide allowing the infant’s immune system to gain strength
- A recent study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that children (especially boys) that were breastfed for >6 months performed better academically after 10 years than those who were not. Another study also found that children breastfed for >8 months performed higher on verbal and performance IQ tests at ages 7 and 8. (3,4)
- The previously mentioned study findings could be attributed to the long chain fatty acids that are found in breastmilk (formula cannot mimic) which are critical to brain development
- Adults who were breastfed have a lower risk of countless diseases and health disorders (gastric cancer, peptic ulcer disease, breast cancer, osteoporosis, obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and others).
A final quote to leave you with from the World Health Organization:
“Lack of breastfeeding – and especially lack of exclusive breastfeeding during the first half-year of life – are important risk factors for infant and childhood morbidity and mortality that are only compounded by inappropriate complementary feeding. The life-long impact includes poor school performance, reduced productivity, and impaired intellectual and social development.” (6)
1. Breastfeeding Facts: http://www.breastfeedingfacts.com/
2. La Leche League International Facts: http://www.llli.org/cbi/facts.html
3. Dewey, K.G. Is breastfeeding protective against child obesity? J Human Lact 2003; 19 (1) 9-18.
4. Pediatrics, DOI: 10.1542/peds.2009-3489
5. Horwood, L. J. et al. Breast milk feedings and cognitive ability at 7-8 years. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 2001:84:423-27.
6. World Health Organization. Global strategy on infant and young child feeding. 2002-4;13.10.