HEALTHIER YOU: The magic in mother’s milk
BY DR. ANNETTE MAYES
Few topics elicit more passion than the decision of whether or not to breastfeed a baby. There are many formulas on the market that hold great nutritional value, but I make a point of reminding new mothers that the milk from their breasts is simply the best.
August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month, a time when we focus on the fact that the benefits of breastfeeding extend well beyond basic nutrition. In addition to containing all the vitamins and nutrients that a baby needs in the first six months of life, breast milk is packed with disease- fighting substances that protect babies from illness.
Numerous studies from around the world have shown that stomach viruses, lower respiratory illnesses, ear infections, and meningitis occur less often in breastfed babies and are less severe when they do strike. Babies who are fed formula based on cow’s milk or soy tend to have more allergic reactions than breastfed babies.
Breastfeeding also protects against illness beyond infancy. Studies have shown that it can reduce the risk of developing certain childhood cancers. Scientists don’t know exactly how breast milk reduces the risk, but they believe antibodies in breast milk may give a baby’s immune system a boost.
Your breast milk is specifically tailored to your baby, and exclusive breastfeeding — meaning no solid food, formula or water — for at least six months seems to offer the most protection.
I understand the challenges that often accompany breastfeeding, and the last thing I want is for mothers to feel guilty if they are unable to breastfeed. However, I do want to make sure that all parents are empowered with the knowledge to make the healthiest possible choices for their children.
For additional information, contact the Las Vegas All Women’s Care Offices at (702) 522-9640. Or visit us at 700 Shadow Lane No. 165 (1st floor) in Las Vegas.