Breast is still best
You have probably already heard that “breast is best” – that breastfeeding provides your baby with the best nourishment possible. Just yesterday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a policy statement in the March 2012 issue of Pediatrics which emphasizes that exclusive breastfeeding is best for the first 6 months of life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with foods until the baby is about 12 months of age. Then, mom and baby can decide if breastfeeding should continue or not, depending on their individual preferences.
AAP looked at the health of breastfed babies, partially breastfed babies and non-breastfed babies and concluded that “Breastfeeding provides a protective effect against respiratory illnesses, ear infections, gastrointestinal diseases, and allergies including asthma, eczema and atopic dermatitis. The rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is reduced by over a third in breastfed babies, and there is a 15 percent to 30 percent reduction in adolescent and adult obesity in breastfed vs. non-breastfed infants.” So, breastfeeding can have a positive effect on your baby’s health both now and in the future.
There’s more good news. AAP further says that “breastfeeding promotes a unique and emotional connection between mother and baby.” So, it is not only good for your baby, but it is good for you, too. In AAP’s policy statement “Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk” they emphasize that “…infant nutrition should be considered a public health issue and not only a lifestyle choice.” They urge pediatricians and hospitals to encourage new moms to breastfeed.
If you have questions about breastfeeding, be sure to speak with your pediatrician or with a lactation specialist. You can also read common myths about breastfeeding on AAP parenting website, healthy children. And, the March of Dimes has lots of good information on breastfeeding on our website. Be sure to click on the tabs for more information and watch our videos.