Breastfeeding Research 2019: August, September and October

This is the first study examining and quantifying the association between breastfeeding and childhood obesity in an African setting with high HIV prevalence. Breastfeeding was independently associated with reduced childhood obesity for both HIV-exposed and unexposed children.  Continued breastfeeding is critical to tackling the growing obesity epidemic. In the era of widespread effective anti-retroviral treatment for HIV-infected women for life, this research supports  the recommendation of breastfeeding for all women. PLOS, August 27, 2019.

This study shows that short-term breastfeeding of only 2 months supports healthy cognitive development at 5 years of age compared to infants never breastfed.  Children at 5 years had an increased overall IQ (2.00 points) and non-verbal IQ (1.88) among those who were predominately breastfed for 2 months of age compared with those never breastfed. Acta Pediatrica, September 19, 2019.

“Support for breastfeeding is an environmental imperative.  Formula milk contributes to environmental degradation and climate change.”  This is the title and sub-title of research in the United Kingdom.  The carbon footprint of formula is a major concern in this article.  Much of this is due to formula production and transportation.  One of the examples:   Helping mothers in the UK alone to exclusively breastfeed their babies would reduce carbon emissions equivalent to reducing road traffic by 50,000 to 77,500 cars each year. As the research states for UK society:  “Our house is on fire.”  I recommend this article for all.  British Medical Journal, October 2, 2019.

Breastfeeding for more than 12 months was associated with a relative risk reduction of 30% for diabetes and a relative risk reduction of 13% for hypertension. Data was analyzed from 255,000 women.  Breastfeeding may have a positive impact on cardiovascular outcomes in mothers. JAMA Network Open, October 16, 2019.

UNICEF’s report examines the issue of children, food and nutrition. The report found that one third of children under age five are malnourished – stunted, wasted or overweight – while two thirds are at risk of malnutrition and hidden hunger because of the poor quality of their diets. Only 2 in 5 infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed, as recommended. Breastfeeding could save the lives of 820,000 children annually worldwide. The main concern is the sales of milk-based formula which grew 41% globally and 72% in upper middle-income countries such as Brazil, China, and Turkey from 2008–2013.  “The State of the World’s Children,” UNICEF, October 2019.

Sheila Kippley



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