1. Breastfeeding Research, January-March 2014

Introduction:  Last year I reviewed the breastfeeding research for 2013.  Following is a summary of some of the breastfeeding research of last year, 2014.  This research project was very time consuming; it appears more or less chronologically in this and the next three blogs.
New research of over 7000 Chinese women found that those who breast-fed were about half as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis compared to those who never breastfed. And the longer a woman breast-fed, the lower her risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. (Rheumatology, January 6, 2014)

While breastfeeding provides many benefits to mother and baby and two years of breastfeeding is recommended, there has been a steady decline of breastfeeding in Saudi Arabia.  The duration of breastfeeding went from 13.4 months in 1987 to 8.5 months in 2010.  Initiation rates were high (over 90%) but the breastfeeding rates during the first hour of life were very poor.  The most common reason given for cessation of breastfeeding was insufficient breast milk.  (International Breastfeeding Journal, January 2014, 9:1)
Sheila: If mothers were taught the Seven Standards, the duration of breastfeeding would be much longer because frequent suckling stimulates the milk supply.

Breastfeeding mothers (210 mothers or 53%) who supplemented with formula in the hospital were more likely to reduce their nursings or to stop breastfeeding during the first 60 days after birth as opposed to those mothers (183 mothers or 47%) who exclusively breastfed in the hospital.  “The relative risks of not fully breastfeeding and ceasing breastfeeding increased significantly with number of in-hospital formula feeds.”  (Journal of Pediatrics, February 2014)

Breastfeeding can help to prevent cancer in children.  We know from the research that bottle-feeding increases the risk of cancer in children, such as lymphoma and leukemia.  Now an Israeli research concludes that breastfeeding decreases the chances of developing cancer by 60% compared to those children not breastfed. Dr. Keinan-Boker, a professor at the University of Haifa and deputy director of the Health Ministry’s Center for Disease Control, found that children exclusively breastfed up until four months were 40% less likely to develop cancer compared to those children breastfed less than four months. (Israel Cancer Association, February 12, 2014)

Breast milk promotes good bacteria in the gut.  Breastfeeding stimulates the development of helpful lactic acid bacteria in a newborn’s gut flora, which are advantageous to the growth of the child’s immune system. (Applied and Environmental Microbiology, February 2014)

Studies show that breastfed children perform better at school and have higher IQs, but one study sought to find out why breastfed babies are smarter.  A new study by Brigham Young University sociologists studied 7500 mothers and children from birth to five years of age.  They found that breastfeeding was associated with two motherly behaviors: responding to the child’s emotional cues and reading to the child starting at 9 months of age.  Children in the study who were breastfed for 6 months or longer performed the best on reading assessments because they also “experienced the most optimal parenting practices.”  (Journal of Pediatrics, March 2014)

Sheila Kippley

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