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Friday, December 30, 2011

Top Ten Tips for positive parenting in 2012

Number 3.  Breastfeed Your Infant

In 2011, the US Surgeon General issued a "Call to Action" in which she noted that 

"The health effects of breastfeeding are well recognized... Breast milk is uniquely suited to the human infant’s nutritional needs and is a live substance with unparalleled immunological and anti-inflammatory properties that protect against a host of illnesses and diseases for both mothers and children.

"The report [by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality] reaffirmed the health risks associated with formula feeding and early weaning from breastfeeding. With regard to short-term risks, formula feeding is associated with increases in common childhood infections, such as diarrhea and ear infections. The risk of acute ear infection, also called acute otitis media, is 100 percent higher among exclusively formula-fed infants than in those who are exclusively breastfed during the first six months."

The same report goes on to cite other documented health risks of formula feeding, including an increased risk of severe lower respiratory tract infections, asthma, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and, relative to breastfed infants, increased incidence of leukemia and sudden infant death syndrome.  Maternal outcome studies also favor the choice to breastfeed, with formula-feeding mothers suffering increased rates of breast and ovarian cancers.

Breastfeeding is among the best ways to give a gift of health to infants and mothers alike. I can think of no more important decision that expectant parents can make, beating out in utero classical music, multi-media baby toys and all manner of nursery renovations.  More on this shortly!

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