Lorna Vanderhaeghe, BSc
I have always been a proponent of breastfeeding babies for a minimum of one year and preferably two years, if possible. Earlier research has shown that babies that are breastfed are less likely of becoming overweight or obese, have higher IQs, fewer behavioral problems, and a lowered risk of developing allergies.
I have always been a proponent of breastfeeding babies for a minimum of one year and preferably two years, if possible. Earlier research has shown that babies that are breastfed are less likely of becoming overweight or obese, have higher IQs, fewer behavioral problems, and a lowered risk of developing allergies. Besides the wonderful bonding that happens between mom and baby, breastfeeding moms benefit from a reduced risk of breast cancer as well.
Lowering Blood Pressure
Now, science has discovered that for every three months a baby is breastfed, his or her systolic blood pressure reading is reduced by 0.2 mm Hg. Researchers evaluated children at the age of seven because blood pressure at this age is indicative of that in adults. Lower blood pressure in adults reduces the risk of kidney disease, heart attack, and stroke. To put it in perspective, a one-percent reduction in blood pressure will reduce mortality, in general, by about 1.5 percent, overall&it will save 2,000 lives in Canada every year.
Breast Milk Benefits
Research by The Avon Longitutinal Study of Parents and Children, published in the journal Circulation (March 2004) compared breastfed infants to those fed formula. They believe that breastfeeding may promote healthier blood pressure in adults because the sodium content in breast milk is lower than in formula.
Breast milk also contains long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids important for the vascular system while infant formula stimulates insulin secretion and promotes insulin resistance that persists into adulthood. Formula-fed infants are more likely to be overweight children and adults. The child's sex, social status, income, ethnicity, number of siblings, or body mass did not change the findings that breastfeeding, for as little as three months, was beneficial to reducing hypertension.
In May 2004 The Lancet medical journal published a study which compared breastfed children to those receiving formula. Breastfed children had lower ratios of high density lipoprotein (HDL) compared to low density lipoprotein (LDL) and apoA-1 and apoB and C-reactive protein (CRP)-all markers for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) risk
The researchers in this study believe that colostrum, the first milk produced, is rich in antibodies, thereby protecting the child from infection. We know that infection promotes an inflammatory response, which promotes hardening of the arteries and heart disease, as well as Alzheimer's disease, asthma, and many other chronic conditions. Breastfeeding may inhibit this inflammatory response in infants and reduce the risk of developing these chronic conditions later in life.
Formula fed infants also have growth spurts unlike breastfed babies, who tend to gain weight and grow steadily in the early months. Mom's milk is not as calorie dense as formula, but it is nutritionally superior to infant formulas.
Keep Baby on the Breast
Approximately 73 percent of women start breastfeeding, but before the infant is three months old, 40-percent have stopped; and by the time the infant is one year old, only 18.4 percent of women are still breastfeeding. The most frequently cited reason for stopping breastfeeding was that the woman believed she did not have enough milk to supply the baby sufficiently.
Education, encouragement, love, and support are essential if we want new moms to be successful in breastfeeding for as long as possible. Breastfeeding is best, not only for babies, but also to reduce mom's risk for breast cancer.