Health authorities have recommended exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months as scientific studies have shown that it is not only good for the health of the mother but also it is best for the baby. Breast milk does not only contain all the vitamins and nutrients the baby needs in the first six months of life, it is also packed with disease-fighting substances that protect the baby from illness.
Numerous studies have shown that exclusive breastfeeding, that is no solid food, formula or water) for at least six months offers the most protection to the baby. Stomach viruses, lower respiratory illnesses, ear infections, and meningitis occur less often in breastfed babies and are less severe when they do happen.
A study by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences showed that children who are breastfed have a 20 percent lower risk of dying between the ages of 28 days and 1 year than children who weren’t breastfed. This immune factor is associated with a substance called secretory immunoglobulin A that is present in large amounts in the colostrum, the first milk the mother produces for her baby. This substance forms a protective layer on the mucous membranes in the baby’s intestines, nose and throat, thereby guarding him from invading germs.
Studies also showed that breastfeeding’s protection of the baby against illness lasts even beyond the baby’s breastfeeding stage. Scientists think antibodies in breast milk help boost the immune system of the baby.
Breastfeeding may also help children avoid diseases that may strike later in life, such as type 1 and type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and inflammatory bowel disease.
For babies who aren’t breastfed, researchers have documented a link between lack of breastfeeding and later development of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Breastfeeding can protect your baby from developing allergies. Scientists think that immune factors such as secretory IgA that is only available in breast milk help prevent allergic reactions to food by providing a layer of protection to a baby’s intestinal tract. Babies who are not breastmilked don’t get this layer of protection, so they’re more vulnerable to inflammation, allergies, and other eventual health issues.#