A Review of Breastfeeding Research Published September—December 2016

Maternal and pediatric diseases were studied.  To the researchers’ surprise, in terms of medical costs and lives saved, there were more benefits for the mother than the baby.  They defined optimal breastfeeding as breastfeeding for at least one year.  Then they extrapolated their findings in terms of benefits that would result from more mothers doing optimal breastfeeding.  If current breast feeding rates rose from about 30 percent of mothers up to 90 percent, 5,023 cases of breast cancer would be averted each year.  For every 397 mothers who would breastfeed for one year, one case of breast cancer would be averted. For hypertension, assuming the same scenario, optimal breastfeeding would avert 35,392 cases and 322 deaths; only 55 women would have to breastfeed to avert a case of hypertension. For heart attacks, 235 women would have to breastfeed optimally to prevent a heart attack; 162 would need to breastfeed each child for one year to prevent a case of diabetes.  (Maternal & Child Health, September 19, 2016)

In this Thailand study, 556 children had their feedings studied for the first three years, especially with regard to the duration of breastfeeding.  Their teeth were examined for caries or fillings at 3-4 years of age. “There was no association between duration of any breastfeeding and dental caries. In conclusion, full breastfeeding for 6-11 months may protect against dental caries in primary teeth. Prolonged breastfeeding was not associated with dental caries in this population.” (Caries Research, September 9, 2016)

Breastfeeding protects babies from developing asthma. Asthma is the third leading cause of hospital stays and a leading cause of missed school days for U.S. children.  Breastfeeding reduced respiratory symptoms by 27%.  Breastfeeding is recommended for at least six months so that the baby can fully gain the benefits that will protect him from developing asthma. (European Respiratory Society’s International Congress, London, September 3-7, 2016)

Compared to white infants, lack of optimal breastfeeding led to more than twice the number of deaths among African-American infants and both black and Hispanic children have higher risks of ear infections, intestinal diseases and SIDS.  Optimal breastfeeding is defined here as 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding with continued breastfeeding for one year. At least one year of breastfeeding is essential to protect black and Hispanic children from a slew of health risks.  (Journal of Pediatrics, epub November 10, 2016)

Ten studies found that when mothers breastfed their under-one-year infants during painful procedures, such as vaccination injections, the breastfeeding reduced the pain.  (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, epub October 28, 2016)

A new international study suggest that breastfeeding protects babies born of obese mothers.  The team found that babies born to obese mothers and who were exclusively breastfed had a lower weight at six months of age when compared to those fed with infant formula milk. (49th Annual Meeting of the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN), May 25-28, 2016, Athens, Greece.  Epub by University of Granada, October 26, 2016)

In this study 6000 slum mothers of Patna were encouraged to breastfeed by giving each mother four flip books showing the importance of the Third Trimester, Early Initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth, Exclusive Breastfeeding for six months and Complementary Breastfeeding.  Of these mothers, 25% had their babies at home.  The government and researchers knew that breastfeeding could prevent 13% of children’s deaths under the age of five.  Exclusive breastfeeding as a result of this project jumped from 14% to 56% and initiation of breastfeeding during the first hour of life improved from 42% to 60%.  Only mild to moderate malnourishment was found in 15% children, and after the project no case of severe malnourishment was found among the babies. (Times of India, December 12, 2016)

Sheila Kippley


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