World Health Organization (WHO): breastfeeding is the optimal method of providing nourishment for newborn infants in order to facilitate healthy physical and cognitive development, especially with introducing colostrum (thick yellowish fat-infused first letdown of breast milk) within the first hour after birth.
Breast milk provides the ideal natural nutrition with significant immunologic, psychological, social, economic, and environmental benefits.
International policy recommendation by WHO Promotes breastfeeding by:
- Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life
- Continued breastfeeding with introduction of appropriate complementary foods after 6 months up to 2 years of age; even longer if feasible
Reasons for prolonged breastfeeding:
- Decreases the infant morbidity and mortality rates
- Infant’s long-term health benefits, such as reduced risk for acute and chronic diseases
- Mother’s health advantages, read more HERE
- General public health of a community
Some health benefits for a breastfed infant, backed by research:
- A reduction in hospitalizations for gastroenteritis and respiratory infections in the first 8 months of life
- A reduction in the instance of diarrhea and acute respiratory infections in the first year of life
- Diminished the infant deaths in less developed countries
- Integral role in the composition of the microbiota in the infant digestive system (in a detailed follow-up blog topic here)
- Protective influence on childhood obesity and type-2 diabetes
- Lowered circulatory inflammation markers that are present in a number of autoimmune and chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, asthma, and neurodevelopmental delays
- A significant increase in measures of cognitive functioning with higher scores for mathematics, reading, and spelling
- Advanced psychological development in terms of language acquisition, cognition, and psychosocial maturity for school entrance with successful adjustment to school life in primary grade levels
Besides the indisputable health advantages a breastfed infant has, breastfeeding offers an intimate social connection with the mother, as it is significantly cheaper as compared to formula.
Be healthy & happy, Dr. Tijana