Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Breastmilk Benefits and It' Components

Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breast milk is a unique nutritional source that cannot adequately be replaced by any other food, including infant formula. But breasfeeding is not for every women. There ara several factors why they chose not to breasfeed: lifestyle, medical condition, baby can't latch on, concave and flat nipple. If you cannot breasfeed you can still give breasmilk to baby by establish and maintain supply with exclusive pumping.

Infants are fragile and susceptible to disease, partly because their bodies are not fully developed. They must be treated with special care and given adequate nourishment. Infant formulas are able to mimic only few of the nutritional components of breast milk.

Components in Human Breast Milk:

Proteins
Human milk contains two types of proteins: whey and casein.  Approximately 60% is whey, while 40% is casein.  This balance of the proteins allows for quick and easy digestion.  If artificial milk, also called formula, has a greater percentage of casein, it will be more difficult for the baby to digest.  Approximately 60-80% of all protein in human milk is whey protein.  These proteins have great infection-protection properties.


Listed below are specific proteins that are found in breast milk and their benefits:

- Lactoferrin inhibits the growth of iron-dependent bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.  This inhibits certain organisms, such as coliforms and yeast, that require iron.

- Secretory IgA also works to protect the infant from viruses and bacteria, specifically those that the baby, mom, and family are exposed to.  It also helps to protect against E. Coli and possibly allergies.  Other immunoglobulins, including IgG and IgM, in breast milk also help protect against bacterial and viral infections.  Eating fish can help increase the amount of these proteins in your breast milk.

- Lysozyme is an enzyme that protects the infant against E. Coli and Salmonella. It also promotes the growth of healthy intestinal flora and has anti-inflammatory functions.

- Bifidus factor supports the growth of lactobacillus.  Lactobacillus is a beneficial bacteria that protects the baby against harmful bacteria by creating an acidic environment where it cannot survive

Fats
Human milk also contains fats that are essential for the health of your baby.  It is necessary for brain development, absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and is a primary calorie source.  Long chain fatty acids are needed for brain, retina, and nervous system development.  They are deposited in the brain during the last trimester of pregnancy and are also found in breast milk.

Vitamins
The amount and types of vitamins in breast milk is directly related to the mother’s vitamin intake.  This is why it is essential that she gets adequate nutrition, including vitamins.  Fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E, and K, are all vital to the infant’s health.  Water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, and panthothenic acid are also essential.  Because of the need for these vitamins, many healthcare providers and lactation consultants will have nursing mothers continue on prenatal vitamins.

Carbohydrates
Lactose is the primary carbohydrate found in human milk.  It accounts for approximately 40% of the total calories provided by breast milk.  Lactose helps to decrease the amount of unhealthy bacteria in the stomach, which improves the absorption of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.  It helps to fight disease and promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the stomach.

Studies have demonstrated a number of important health benefits to breastfeeding.  Among them:

- Breast-fed children are more resistant to disease and infection early in life than formula-fed children

- Breast-fed children are less likely to contract a number of diseases later in life, including juvenile diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and cancer before the age of 15

- Mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop osteoporosis later in life, are able to lose weight gained during pregnancy more easily and have a lower risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer

Breastfeeding also has economic advantages:

- It's cheaper than buying formula and helps avoid medical bills later because it helps equip the baby to fight off disease and infection.

The United States Lags in Breastfeeding

- The United States has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the industrialized world, and one of the highest rates of infant mortality.

Benefits to the Child in the First Years of Life

- Breast milk is a unique combination of nutrients essential to a child's health, and cannot be duplicated by any laboratory formula. In fact, a large number of the health problems today's children face might be decreased, or even prevented, by breastfeeding the infant exclusively for at least the first six months of life. The longer the mother breastfeeds, the more likely her child will get the health benefits of breastfeeding.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that mothers breastfeed for at least the first year of a child's life and continue until they both feel they are ready to stop. In the first six months, the baby should be nourished exclusively by breast milk. The slow introduction of iron-enriched foods may complement the breastfeeding in the second half of the first year. Breast milk without supplements during the first six months reduces the possibility of food contamination due to tainted water or malnutrition as a result of over-diluted formula. Therefore, the child should be nursed without the interference of water, sugar water, juices, or formulas, unless a specific medical condition indicates otherwise. The AAP asserts that breast milk has the perfect balance of nutrients for the infant. It is by itself enough sustenance for approximately the first six months of life and should follow as the child's staple throughout the first year.

A variety of studies have demonstrated that breastfeeding increases a child's immunity to disease and infection:

- Many studies show that breastfeeding strengthens the immune system. During nursing, the mother passes antibodies to the child, which help the child resist diseases and help improve the normal immune response to certain vaccines.

- Respiratory illness is far more common among formula-fed children. In fact, an analysis of many different research studies concluded that infants fed formula face a threefold greater risk of being hospitalized with a severe respiratory infection than do infants breast-fed for a minimum of four months.

- Diarrheal disease is three to four times more likely to occur in infants fed formula than those fed breast milk.

- Breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the likelihood of ear infections, and to prevent recurrent ear infections. Ear infections are a major reason that infants take multiple courses of antibiotics.

- In developing countries, differences in infection rates can seriously affect an infant's chances for survival. For example, in Brazil, a formula-fed baby is 14 times more likely to die than an exclusively breast-fed baby.

- Researchers have observed a decrease in the probability of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in breast-fed infants.

- Another apparent benefit from breastfeeding may be protection from allergies. Eczema, an allergic reaction, is significantly rarer in breast-fed babies. A review of 132 studies on allergy and breastfeeding concluded that breastfeeding appears to help protect children from developing allergies, and that the effect seems to be particularly strong among children whose parents have allergies.


Benefits to the Child Later in Life

- Infants who are breast-fed longer have fewer dental cavities throughout their lives.

- Several recent studies have shown that children who were breast-fed are significantly less likely to become obese later in childhood. Formula feeding is linked to about a 20 to 30 percent greater likelihood that the child will become obese.

- Children who are exclusively breast-fed during the first three months of their lives are 34 percent less likely to develop juvenile, insulin-dependent diabetes than children who are fed formula.

- Breastfeeding may also decrease the risk of childhood cancer in children under 15 years of age. Formula-fed children are eight times more likely to develop cancer than children who are nursed for more than six months. (It is important to note that children who are breast-fed for less than six months do not appear to have any decreased cancer risk compared to bottle-fed children.)

- As children grow into adults, several studies have shown that people who were breast-fed as infants have lower blood pressure on average than those who were formula-fed. Thus, it is not surprising that other studies have shown that heart disease is less likely to develop in adults who were breast-fed in infancy.

- Significant evidence suggests that breast-fed children develop fewer psychological, behavioral and learning problems as they grow older. Studies also indicate that cognitive development is increased among children whose mothers choose to breastfeed.

- In researching the psychological benefits of breast milk, one researcher found that breast-fed children were, on average, more mature, assertive and secure with themselves as they developed.

Benefits to the Mother:

- Breastfeeding helps a woman to lose weight after birth. Mothers burn many calories during lactation as their bodies produce milk.

- Breastfeeding releases a hormone in the mother (oxytocin) that causes the uterus to return to its normal size more quickly.

- When a woman gives birth and proceeds to nurse her baby, she protects herself from becoming pregnant again too soon, a form of birth control found to be 98 percent effective.

- Breastfeeding appears to reduce the mother's risk of developing osteoporosis in later years. Although mothers experience bone-mineral loss during breastfeeding, their mineral density is replenished and even increased after lactation.

- Diabetic women improve their health by breastfeeding. Not only do nursing infants have increased protection from juvenile diabetes, the amount of insulin that the mother requires postpartum goes down.

- Women who lactate for a total of two or more years reduce their chances of developing breast cancer by 24 percent.

- Women who breastfeed their children have been shown to be less likely to develop uterine, endometrial or ovarian cancer.

- The emotional health of the mother may be enhanced by the relationship she develops with her infant during breastfeeding, resulting in fewer feelings of anxiety and a stronger sense of connection to baby.

Women who breastfeed avoid the financial burden of buying infant formula.

Breast-fed babies are less likely to need excessive medical attention as they grow. In one study, a group of formula-fed infants had $68,000 in health care costs in a six-month period, while an equal number of nursing babies had only $4,000 of similar expenses.

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