Breastfeeding Research: November to December 2015

Saint John Paul II endorsed the UNICEF recommendation that mothers breastfeed their children “up to the second year of life or beyond” because “the overwhelming body of research is in favor of natural feeding rather than its substitutes.” (May 12, 1995)

The scientific evidence indicated that breastfeeding can protect against dental caries in early childhood. (Public Library of Science, November 2015)

This study discussed the various health benefits of breastfeeding. Some of the benefits were: higher rates of mortality among infants never breastfed compared to those exclusively breastfed in the first six months of life and receiving continued breastfeeding beyond. Otitis media occurs nearly twice as frequently among those not exclusively breastfed in the first six months. Many of the benefits of breastfeeding are experienced after breastfeeding is stopped. Children who were breastfed have a lower risk of obesity, higher intelligence quotients, reduced malocclusion and less asthma. Breastfeeding mothers likewise benefit from having breastfed, with lower rates of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type II diabetes and postpartum depression. These multiple benefits of breastfeeding demonstrate the contribution and relevance of breastfeeding as a global public health issue, for low- and high-income populations alike.  (Acta Paediatrics, online November 4, 2015)

This study was carried out on more than 1000 children who were studied from birth until they were 10 years old.  Those not breastfed gained weight and stayed heavier than breastfed children right up to age 10.  The conclusion was that babies should not be given cow’s milk as their main drink before the age of 12 months. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 12, 2015)

Breastfeeding benefits include less risk for eye problems in premature babies. The lead researcher of this study involving preterm infants said: “Theoretically, exclusive human milk feeding could potentially prevent 8 percent (160,000) very preterm infants from severe retinopathy of prematurity globally. That is an enormous influence and prevents thousands of preterm infants from blindness or visual impairment.” (The Journal of Pediatrics, online November 16, 2015)

Lactation may prevent diabetes mellitus after gestational diabetes mellitus delivery. (Annals of Internal Medicine, November 24, 2015)

This study aimed to assess optimal breastfeeding practices of 0–6 month infants using breastfeeding performance index (BPI) and its association with childhood illness in Ethiopia.  More than 80 % of the infants did not receive optimal breastfeeding practices based on the Breastfeeding Performance Index. Lower BPI was statistically associated with diarrhea, fever and short and rapid breaths illness in the last 2 weeks of this study dealing with infants up to six months of age.  This study implicates the importance of optimal breastfeeding to reduce childhood illness.  (International Breastfeeding Journal, November 27, 2015)

A team from the University of Manitoba studied 334,553 deliveries over a 24-year period. A total of 60,088 of the births were to mothers from indigenous communities, where rates of gestational diabetes are up to three times higher than among non-indigenous mothers. Breastfeeding was recorded in 56% of indigenous mothers and 83% of non-indigenous mothers.
The researchers found that breastfeeding was associated with a 14% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes among indigenous mothers, and a 23% reduced risk among non-indigenous mothers.
Overall, they found a 18% lower risk among all children, regardless of ethnicity. (World Diabetes Congress, Vancouver, December 2015)

Breastfeeding between pregnancies is a natural, economic and simple way to manage a mother’s weight which can help lower the risk of stillbirth and infant death. (New Zealand Breastfeeding Alliance, December 3, 2015)

Full breastfeeding at 3 months postpartum appeared to be negatively associated with postnatal depressive symptoms for mothers residing in Sabah, Malaysia. (Journal of Human Lactation, online December 7, 2015)

Breastfeeding for 6-12 months significantly reduced the risk of severe hand, foot, and mouth disease, as did breastfeeding for more than 12 months. (The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, online December 8, 2015)

Breastfeeding is potentially inversely associated with thyroid cancer risk. Also longer duration of breastfeeding may further decrease thyroid cancer risk.  (Clinical Nutrition, online December 17, 2015)

Kangaroo mother care (KMC), an intervention that facilitates skin-to-skin contact between newborn and mother, can substantially reduce mortality in low-birth-weight newborns. KMC can decrease the risk of neonatal sepsis, hypothermia, hypoglycemia, hospital readmission, and increase the likelihood of exclusive breast-feeding. (Pediatrics, online December 23, 2015)

Sheila Kippley
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding: The Frequency Factor

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