WHY BREASTFEED? 10 FACTS ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING
1) Higher Survival Rates Breastfeeding is the closest thing the world has to a magic bullet for child survival. In developing countries, optimal breastfeeding – starting within one hour of birth, exclusive breastfeeding (no additional foods or liquids, including water) for 6 months, and continued breastfeeding until age 2 or longer – has the potential to prevent 12 per cent of all deaths in children under age 5.
2) Perfect Nutrient Breast milk provides all of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals an infant needs for growth for the first six months. Babies do not need liquids other than breastmilk, not even water, in the first 6 months as breastmilk contains all the water a baby needs, even in very hot climates.
3) Fewer Cases of Diarrhea and Pneumonia Exclusively breastfed children are less susceptible to diarrhea and pneumonia.
4) Antibodies Breast milk carries antibodies from the mother that help combat disease.
5) Sucking Benefits The act of breastfeeding itself stimulates proper growth of the mouth and jaw, and secretion of hormones for digestion and satiety.
6) Health Benefits in Later Years Breastfeeding lowers the risk of chronic conditions later in life, such as obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, childhood asthma and childhood leukemias.
7) Smarter & Better Behaved Studies have shown that breastfed infants do better on intelligence and behavior tests into adulthood than formula-fed babies.
8) Formula is NOT The Same as Breastmilk Formula, at its best, only replaces most of the nutritional components of breast milk: it is just a food, whereas breast milk is a complex living nutritional fluid containing anti-bodies, enzymes, long chain fatty acids and hormones, many of which simply cannot be included in formula.
9) Easy Gut Absorbtion In the first few months, it is hard for the baby’s gut to absorb anything other than breastmilk.
10) Mothers Also Benefit Breastfeeding helps prevent post-partum hemorrhage, reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, and allows women to better space their pregnancies acting as a natural form of birth control.
The above information was taken from the websites of the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/breastfeeding/en/ http://www.unicef.org/nutrition/index_24824.html