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The Beauty and Benefits of Breastfeeding
In recent years, there has been much debate surrounding the topic of breastfeeding. While the decision to breastfeed is a personal one, there are countless benefits for mother and child that should be explored. One of the most significant reasons to breastfeed your child has to do with the quality of food your child ingests. Although baby formula can meet the nutritional requirements of children, it is not the ideal food for babies.
According to the World Health Organization, Breastfeeding is the best source of food for babies. Commercial baby formula consists of countless preservatives and byproducts of other food production techniques that have no proven benefit for your child. Formula is also extremely high in fat content, and leads parents to believe that their child is thriving because he or she is gaining weight. This is not necessarily the case.
Breast milk, on the other hand, has undergone millions of years of development in Nature’s laboratory. Countless studies have proven that there is no reasonable substitute for breast milk. Breast milk has the amazing ability to transform and adapt to the needs of your baby at various stages of development.
Colostrum is a wonderful example of how a woman’s body produces the perfect food for a baby. It is the first fluid produced by a mother, usually starting a few months before delivery. It differs slightly in appearance from breast milk, as it is thicker and has a yellowish tint. It has a high concentration of antibodies that help newborns fend off illness and disease and build strong, stable immune systems. It is extremely easy for babies to digest, and it also has a laxative effect to help ease digestion.
Studies have also shown that there is a direct relationship between breastfeeding and a child’s cognitive ability and intelligence. Simply put, breastfed babies have a higher IQ than their bottle-fed peers. Some studies have concluded that the longer a child is breastfed, the higher the IQ he/she will have. Other studies have shown that breastfed children have a lower incidence of ear infections. This is significant when considering the overuse of antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant disease.
Food allergies are another important consideration for new parents. Breastfed babies have a much lower chance of developing life-threatening food allergies. Therefore, they have an even lower chance of developing related diseases such as gastrointestinal disorders, diarrhea and vomiting. Breast milk protects babies against food allergies because it has a high concentration of the immunoglobulin IgA. IgA works by binding to foreign proteins and preventing them from entering the child’s bloodstream. Children do not begin to produce IgA themselves until about 8 months of age.
Other studies have concluded that breastfeeding can also protect your child from diseases such as multiple sclerosis and leukemia. New parents should carefully research their options and make educated decisions about their child’s health and well-being. Talk to your Pediatrician, or contact your local health unit, for more information. The choice you make will affect your child’s health for the rest of his life.
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