Scientific Benefits of Breastmilk

The following is a student blog post by a Laura Babcock

Scientific Benefits of Breastmilk

Breastfeeding is a beautiful and rewarding part of your relationship with your baby. But like any relationship it often takes work on both ends. Breastfeeding may come easily and naturally to you or it may take a little work and troubleshooting but the effort is always worth it once you hit your stride. There is really no feeling like the wave of oxytocin that comes over your body while breastfeeding.

The AAP, WHO, and more recognize the astounding benefits of breastfeeding to both mother and baby. Dr. Sears notes that there are many reasons why breast is best. New studies of breast milk suggest that this living biological fluid carries substances that are critical to the optimal development of many systems in the body. This early development may very well affect the progress of many diseases throughout life.

Some of the health benefits that breastfed babies experience include fewer ear infections and fewer upper respiratory infections. Breastfed babies are less likely to be obese later in life or get diabetes. Breastfeeding builds brighter brains as the types of fat in human milk support the growth of nerve tissue.

Dr. Sears stresses that human milk is more than food. It’s a complex living substance, like blood, with a long list of active germ-fighting and health-promoting ingredients. These benefits of breastmilk help protect babies against all kinds of infections.

breastfeedingThere are around one million white blood cells in a single drop of breastmilk. These white blood cells are tasked with attacking and removing germs. Breastmilk is also packed with immunoglobulin A (IgA), which coats the lining of babies’ immature intestines, preventing germs from leaking through. The IgA also works to prevent food allergies by coating the intestinal lining like a protective paint, to prevent molecules of foreign foods from getting into the bloodstream to set up an allergic reaction.

The first few days after birth, mothers exclusively make Colostrum, which is particularly rich in IgA. This is perfect timing as newborns need protection from germs and foreign substances entering their body. Colostrum also contains higher amounts of white blood cells and infection-fighting substances than mature milk.

When a baby is introduced to new germs, her body produces the precise antibodies baby needs. The antibodies appear in her milk and are passed onto baby. The best thing a mother can do if she is ill is to continue breastfeeding in order to protect her infant.

The list of breastfeeding benefits is endless. Breastfeeding allows for safe co-sleeping and a reduction is SIDS risk. There are health benefits to the mother as well, including decreased breast cancer rates. Breastfeeding is also free where formula can cost upwards of $1200 per year and requires clean, sterile water.

All of this information can be found on Dr. Sears’ website and so much more. Check out this article

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