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Breast Feeding Reduces Risk of Ear Infections

It has long been documented that breast feeding offers an enormous list of benefits, both to baby and mother, but recent studies show that it might be time to add one more item to that list. New research says breast fed infants are at a lower risk for ear infections than those which are bottle fed. This comes from the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, where a team took data from more than four-hundred and fifty mothers. What they learned was that those babies which nursed for at least twelve months had lower risks associated with ear infections and diarrhea, than those which were not fed naturally.


Medical News Today reports: “After accounting for demographic and other related factors, researchers found that one month of feeding at the breast was associated with a 4 percent reduction in the odds of ear infection, and they found a 17 percent reduction in the odds for infants fed at the breast for six months of infancy.”


Infants who received pumped breast milk also received health benefits over those who were bottle fed formula. These findings are not conclusive enough to determine whether ear infections are related to bottle feeding, but they were enough to indicate a clear risk decrease for babies who are breastfed.


Diarrhoea Reduction


The same study, outlined above, found that the risk of babies having diarrhoea and other stomach related maladies was also reduced by the introduction of breast feeding over formula. Whether this was due to air in the bottles or the direct makeup of the formula was not documented. Times of India advises: “Infants fed with breast milk by either mode for six months had an approximately 30 percent reduced risk of diarrhoea.”


This news helps scientists in better understanding the underlying reasons for stomach issues in infants, from gas and bloating, to nausea and diarrhoea. It does not guarantee mothers that nursing a baby will completely eradicate the risk of irregular bowels, only that the risk is lessened by the application of breastmilk when compared to that of formula.


Additional Breastfeeding Benefits


Nursing a baby for the first time can be extremely difficult, stressful, frustrating and sometimes painful, but if you can keep at it and find your flow, so to speak, there are some great benefits in store for both mother and baby. Research has shown that not only do babies receive antibodies from their mother’s milk to reduce illness and build a stronger immune system, but it can also help a baby to better bond with his or her mother during those early stages of life.


Mothers who breastfeed have also seen a greater improvement in the tightening of muscles, as the act of nursing can cause tiny contractions which help in regards to hips, stomach, and the vagina.


Ear Infections and Babies


While nursing mothers have plenty to celebrate over this news, those who choose to bottle feed aren’t necessarily in trouble when it comes to ear infections. Professor Chonmaitree has released similar findings to that of the Children’s Hospital, which shows ear infections in children under the age of one are decreasing overall. This information was collected from 2008 to 2014 with a total of 267 babies under the age of one month up until the age of one. ENT specialists collected samples and were able to determine that ear infections have dropped from 18% in three month olds to 6% and 39% in six month olds to 23%. The numbers all drop across the board, marking a reason for moms everywhere to smile. Science Daily warns: Acute otitis media, or an ear infection, is one of the most common childhood infections, the leading cause of visits to doctors by children and the most common reason children take antibiotics or undergo surgery. Having ear infections as young infants under 6 months old increases the risk of repeatedly having this illness later in life.


These findings mean that the risk of ongoing ear infections is also less, due to the lowered number of infant cases across the board. Future studies may include researching ear infections in children from one to five, and whether this documentation holds true in terms of being at a lesser risk for ear infections following a decreased number in the first year of life.


If you are concerned that your child has an ear infection you should seek the help of a physician. While most ear infections are quite easy to treat, they can become quite serious and even fatal if left untreated. Young babies are at risk of losing their hearing when infections become bad and are left untreated.


For breastfeeding help or facts, you can also ask your doctor, or speak to a public health nurse for more options or techniques. Not every mother can breastfeed, but your doctor can point you in the direction of the best possible substitute.

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