“…researchers are finally beginning to get a better handle on exactly what makes breast milk unique and beneficial.”–Denise Mann, WebMD Health News.
Human breast milk contains ingredients, as well as functions, that artificial formulas cannot replicate. Breast milk is not just different from formula, it’s different from mother to mother. The relationship between mother and baby goes further than supply and demand. Interaction between mother and child affects the composition of milk according to the child’s specific needs.
Different Milk for Preemies, Infants, and Toddlers
Preterm babies get different milk than toddlers, says Barbara Holmes, a lactation specialist at New York University Langone Medical Center.
Different Milk for Boys and Girls
According to a new article in Nature (Dec 23/30), breast milk produced for boys contains more protein and fat than breast milk produced for girls.
“We know that boys grow faster than girls, and perhaps this is due to the milk, or the milk may be responding to the commands of the child,” said Ginna Wall, coordinator of lactation services at University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle.
Breast Milk Protects Against Allergies and Infection
Breast milk is rich in human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), which protect infants against infection. Some mothers have up to 200 different HMOs in their milk.
New studies show that breast milk affects gene expression in the stomach cells of infants, which could lower breastfed babies’ risks of developing food allergies.
How many Washington babies receive these benefits?
The CDC rates Washington state among the top 10 for breastfeeding. But that’s only 21 percent of Washington babies who meet the World Health Organization (WHO) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations to breastfeed exclusively through 6 months and continuing into toddlerhood.
The Seattle area has only three “Baby-Friendly” hospitals that adequately promote breastfeeding and refuse formula donations.
Discussion: Do you think Seattle is breastfeeding-friendly?
Source: WebMD New insights on benefits of breastfeeding
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Breastfeeding Blog: Breastfeeding Happiness