Breastfeeding: The Recent Research

In accord with the intent of World Breastfeeding Week (Aug. 1-7, 2007) to draw attention to the importance and values of breastfeeding, I submit the following:

“Probably no formula – no artificial baby food – EVER WILL MATCH THE BENEFITS OF HUMAN MILK whose nutritional and immunological benefits are marvelous and unique.” W. D. Virtue, Mother and Infant, 239.

Recent Breastfeeding Research

Breastfeeding is best. No doubt about it. As parents, we should all agree that we want to do what is best for our children. After childbirth, that choice is easy. We can do all we can to breastfeed within our capabilities.

Recent research has greatly stimulated interest in promoting breastfeeding, especially among health authorities. Today’s blog calls attention to some recent studies.

Children who are breastfed will more likely have better vision than those who are formula-fed. This study supports the growing body of evidence suggesting that breastfeeding is beneficial for visual development, according to Dr. Atul Singhal. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2007)

A three-month blitz of a “babies are born to be breastfed” campaign occurred in upstate New York using billboards, posters, and public service announcements during popular TV shows. The campaign was a success by raising the approval rating of public nursing from 54% to 69% among women and from 35% to 46% among men. (Herkimer County, N.Y., June 2007)

Breastfeeding initiation may be more successful when a mother lies flat or semi-reclined on her back with baby on her tummy. The babies nursed better when mothers used whatever position was comfortable and tried various positions, if needed. (Royal College of Nursing Conference, Dr. Suzanne Colson, May 2007)

Breastfeeding protects women from breast cancer, even those women who have children later in life. Dr. Giske Ursin, MD, PhD, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, said, “Our most important finding here is that breastfeeding seems to modify the increased risk that comes from having children later in life.” Thus she added, “We believe that breastfeeding should be encouraged for all women.” (American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting, April 16, 2007)

Breastfeeding protects against the incidence or severity of a childhood sleep-related breathing disorder (SRBD) which affects 3% of children. (SLEEP 2007, 21st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, June 11, 2007)

In developing countries, instructing HIV-infected mothers to breastfeed would result in 300,000 children becoming infected with HIV, but would save 1.5 million babies from death due to other diseases. There is a six-fold relative risk of death from infectious diseases in babies fed formula compared to those exclusively breastfed. In a 4-year study in South Africa, 4% of babies who were exclusively breastfed contracted HIV. (14th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, February 26, 2007)
[IMPORTANT: The website for correct information about breastfeeding and HIV/AIDS is]

Breastfeeding for 13 months or longer reduces the mother’s risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that affects three times more women than men. The longer a mother breastfed, the lower her risk of developing RA later in life. (Annual European Congress of Rheumatology, Barcelona, June 15, 2007)
[IMPORTANT: To be able to breastfeed for 13 months or longer, a woman should consider a form of breastfeeding similar to eco-breastfeeding.]

“Research in developed and developing countries of the world, including middle-class populations in developed countries, provides strong evidence that human milk feeding decreased the incidence and/or severity of a wide range of infectious diseases including bacterial meningitis, bacteremia, diarrhea, respiratory tract infection, necrotizing enterocolitis, otitis media, urinary tract infection, and late-onset sepsis in preterm infants In addition, postneonatal infant mortality rates in the United States are reduced by 21% in breastfed infants.” (Special Report from ACOG: “Breastfeeding: Maternal and Infant Aspects,” ACOG Clinical Review, January-February 2007)

Message: All mothers should strive to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of life.

Sheila Kippley
NFP International
Author: Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood (Sophia, 2005)
Natural Family Planning: The Question-Answer Book (e-book
at this website, 2005)

Comments are closed.