Benefits of breastfeeding:
- Breast milk gives infants all the nutrients they need for healthy development.
- Breastfeeding is safe and breast milk contains antibodies that help protect infant from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea and pneumonia, the two primary causes of child mortality worldwide.
- Breast milk is readily available and affordable, ensuring the infants get adequate sustenance.
- It contributes to a lifetime of good health to children who are breastfed: lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, lower rates of overweight, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
- It has been shown that people who were breastfed perform better in intelligence tests.
- Breastfeeding benefits mothers too. It reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer later in life, helps women return to their prepregnancy weight faster, and lowers rates of obesity.
More Breastfeeding Benefits
“There is simply no better food for newborns” than breast milk, writes neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta in Time magazine. “Breast-fed babies have lower rates of hospital admission, ear infection, diarrhea, rashes, allergies and other medical problems than bottle-fed tots.” Breast-feeding is also reported to protect against respiratory illnesses.
A Danish study concluded that “adults who as babies were breastfed for seven to nine months had higher IQs than those who were breast-fed for two weeks or less.” The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child be nursed for six months and, if possible, for a year or more.
“It turns out babies aren’t the only ones who benefit from breast-feeding,” says U.S.News & World Report. A study of 150,000 women in 30 countries revealed that “every year a woman breast-feeds she cuts her lifetime risk of developing breast cancer by 4.3 percent.”
Yet, “only half of American mothers breast-feed, for an average of two to three months.”