Even if you don’t have children, you’ve probably heard at least once that breast milk is the “gold standard.” Even formula companies acknowledge this, when they make claims as to why their formula is the closest thing out there to breast milk. But, I’m also pretty sure not everyone is aware of some of the research surrounding the benefits of breastfeeding, both for the baby and the breast-feeding mother. So with thanks to the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA,) I leave you with some interesting tidbits as to the benefits of breastfeeding.
For the baby:
1. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Reduction: I think many are already aware that breastfeeding reduces SIDS, one study found by about 50%.
And for the mother:
2. Lung Function Improvement: A study found breastfeeding for 4 months improves lung volume in infants.
3. Osteoporosis Reduction: A nice Australian study found 8-year-olds who were breastfed for at least 3 months had improved bone mass.
4. Lower Blood Pressure: The longer an infant was breastfed, the lower the blood pressure in the future as older children.
5. Decreased obesity: This comes from a great longitudinal study out of Finland where infants who were breastfed until 5-7 months of age had lower body mass indexes (BMIs) at 60-years of age.
6. Stress Reduction: After getting over the initial difficulties of learning how to breastfeed a baby, it really is a stress reducer.
7. Lower Blood Pressure: Blood pressure numbers not only fall during a breastfeeding session, but also prior to a breastfeeding session.
8. Cardiovascular Disease Reduction: Specifically, in postmenopausal women, those who breastfed had a lower risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
9. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Reduction: A study out of Sweden found that women who breastfed for 13 months were half as likely to develop RA as those who didn’t breastfeed.
10. Metabolic Syndrome Reduction: The development of metabolic syndrome; risk factors increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, was shown to be reduced in moms who breastfed.
So there you have it. And I would certainly enjoy hearing from mothers who breastfed about their experiences, both positive and the not-so-positive.
- Dr. Jeremy