Natural Family Planning: Breastfeeding Research published July-Sept. 2018

Obesity protection
A large national study has shown exclusive breastfeeding in the first three months of life provides protection against infants becoming overweight at one year of age.  Researchers in Canada studied ovdr 1000 babies and found a 63% increased risk of becoming overweight among infnats who were partially (versus exclusively) breastfed at three months of age, and a 102% increased risk among exclusively formula-fed infants.  As one researcher said: “Breastfeeding is one of the most influential factors in shaping the infant gut microbiome.” JAMA Pediatrics, online only, July 2, 2018.

Importance of the first year
The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition of England reported their recommendation on feeding in the first year of life due to the many benefits of breastfeeding.  The recommendations were 1) exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, 2) continued breastfeeding for the first year of life, and 3) wait until six months before introducing solid foods.  July 17, 2018.

First hour
Three in five babies, mostly born in low- and middle-income countries, are not breastfed within the first hour of life, placing them at higher risk of death and disease.  “When it comes to the start of breastfeeding, timing is everything.  In many countries, it can even be a matter of life or death,” said Henrietta Fore, the UNICEF Executive Director.  UNICEF and WHO note that newborns who breastfeed in the first hour of life are significantly more likely to survive.  They estimate that 78 million newborns are excluded.  United Nations report, July 31, 2018.

Fewer maternal strokes
Postmenopausal women who report ever having breastfed have a 23% reduced risk for a stroke later in life compared with those who had children but never breastfed, a new observational study suggests. For non-Hispanic black women, that risk is as much as 48% lower after adjustment for other stroke risk factors, the researchers note. “Breastfeeding History and Risk of Stroke Among Parous Postmenopausal Women in the Women’s Health Initiative,” Jounral of the American Heart Association, August 22, 2018.

Antibiotic use in pregnancy was a risk factor for childhood asthma. However, this risk may be reduced by exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life, especially among high-risk children. “The effect of breastfeeding on the risk of asthma in high-risk children: a case control study in Shanghai, China,” BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, August 23, 2018.

Mrs Chimay Thompson, the Assistant Director, Nutrition Division, Family Health Department, Federal Ministry of Health, has said improving the nation’s breastfeeding practices could save 100,000 lives in Nigeria yearly.  Interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, September 8, 2018.

Donor human milk helped
WHO recommends donor human milk for infant feeding when mother’s milk is not available.  Although detailed medical records were not always available, the case studies provide anecdotal evidence of the protective effects of donor human milk against failure to thrive, diarrhoea, atopic dermatitis, and opportunistic infections. “Using donor human milk to feed vulnerable term infants: a case series in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa,” International Breastfeeding Journal, September 10, 2018.

Premature babies
Premature babies born before 33 weeks gestation showed better brain development when fed breast milk rather than formula milk. Babies who exclusively received breast milk for at least three-quarters of the days they spent in the hospital showed improved brain connectivity compared with others.  “Breast milk may be best for premature babies’ brain development,” NeuroImage, September 22, 2018.

Resistant bacteria
A new study has found that babies who are breastfed for six months have fewer antibiotic resistant bacteria in their guts.  What is antibiotic-resistant bacteria? Antibiotic resistant bacteria are bacteria that are not controlled or killed by antibiotics. They are able to survive and even multiply in the presence of an antibiotic. Most infection-causing bacteria can become resistant to at least some antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is a serious public health problem. The biggest concern with antibiotic resistance is that some bacteria that can cause serious diseases have already become resistant to almost all of the easily available antibiotics.  Although breast milk does contain bacteria that’s resistant to antibiotics, it’s the sugar in the milk that is  beneficial. These sugars, like Bifidobacteria, provide sustenance to “good” gut bacteria, which work like probiotics for babies. “Maternal gut and breast milk microbiota affect gut antibiotic resistome and mobile genetic elements,” Nature Communications, September 24, 2018.





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