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What Are the Benefits of Breastfeeding?

Find out how breastfeeding can benefit your baby.

By
Rob Lamberts, MD
August 5, 2009
Episode #008

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The first week in August is World Breastfeeding Week, and so today's article focuses on the benefits of breastfeeding.

But first let me remind you that this podcast is for informational purposes only. My goal is to add to your medical knowledge and translate some of the weird medical stuff you hear, so when you do go to your doctor, your visits will be more fruitful. I don’t intend to replace your doctor; he or she is the one you should always consult about your own medical condition.

What are the Benefits of Breastfeeding?

Here is the simple truth about breastfeeding: it is the most healthy and beneficial way to feed an infant. Period.

Now I am not saying this to lay a guilt trip on every woman who doesn’t breastfeed. Some don’t have the option due to physical problems or the situation they are in. But most people don’t realize just how beneficial it is for a child. The research I did for this podcast actually made me re-think just how vigorously to promote breastfeeding in my practice. There is no doubt that breast is best.

The Benefits of Breast Milk

The benefits of breast milk start immediately after birth. After the child is born, the mother puts out a special type of milk called colostrum. Colostrum contains extra antibodies, immune cells, and other important substances that the mother passes on to the child. That immediately protects the infant against illnesses involving the digestive tract.

But the benefits extend beyond those first few days. The American Academy of Pediatrics, an organization to which I belong, urges women to breastfeed. Stating that there is unequivocal evidence that breastfeeding helps prevent a variety of diseases and conditions, such as:

It also decreases the future risk of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, lymphoma, leukemia, and childhood obesity. That isn’t the complete list, but you get the picture.

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