Common knowledge: Mother’s breast milk is the primary source of nutrition for an infant.
Not-so-common knowledge: Breast milk is packed with a significant variety of live cells that support the infant’s whole system.
The components of breast milk include leukocytes (white blood cells), macrophages, neutrophils, and lymphocytes. The largest component of lymphocytes are T-cells, which include CD8+ (cytotoxic) and CD4+ (helper) T-cells, with activated memory cells that support and influence the infant’s immune system.
All of these cells can easily be absorbed by the infant through the mucosal membrane of the intestine, where they continue to carry out their normal functions and promote proper digestive flora. On the other hand, artificial infant formulas are much more difficult to digest and may additionally cause inflammatory reactions in the body.
Researchers have found that breast-fed babies have a decreased risk of dying of SIDS, fewer ear infections, less likelihood of obesity or cardiovascular disease, fewer hospitalizations for pneumonia, and many, many more. Review the diagram below…
The current American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy calls for exclusive breast-feeding for “about 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, with continuation of breastfeeding for 1 year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant.” Some of the benefits for the mothers include a decreased risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancers.
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Yours in health, Dr. Tijana