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Study Proves Breastfeeding Improves Immune System

Breastfeeding always seems to be in the media for something, and while it isn’t always positive feedback that women are getting, nothing speaks louder than Mother Nature. Some of the most recent research shows promising results in how breastfeeding affects the immune system of nursing infants. Results showed that infants who nursed up until the age of six months had microbes in their gut that assisted in the development of a healthy immune system. This was led by Dr. Christine Cole Johnson from the Henry Ford Hospital, which is located in Detroit, Michigan. Medical News Today states the following: “A series of studies set to be presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology's Annual Meeting in Houston, TX, claim an infant's immune system development and susceptibility to asthma and allergies may be influenced by a number of factors that shape what bacteria is in their gut, such as gestational age at birth, breastfeeding and delivery by Cesarean section.”


Other studies have found similar results with breastfed babies showing signs of lowered risk toward allergies and asthma. This has been highly beneficial for new mothers making considerations about nursing, and for the medical community in their efforts to increase breastfeeding among new mothers.


Giving Your Baby The Best Start


Some of the reasons behind the immunity boost might be granted to the above mentioned microbes, but the scientific community has also found that antibodies absorbed through the mother’s milk can help babies improve their immune systems and develop antibodies of their own. HealthyChildren.org suggest: “Human milk provides virtually all the protein, sugar, and fat your baby needs to be healthy, and it also contains many substances that benefit your baby’s immune system, including antibodies, immune factors, enzymes, and white blood cells.”


Breast feeding produces all of the food and liquid your baby needs throughout his or her day up until the time they begin eating solid food. This helps them develop at a natural rate, and offers all of the vitamins and nutrients that a mother’s body has to offer.


Choosing To Nurse


Although formula fed babies can gain a very similar level of nutrition from their bottles, this will never be exactly the same as what breast milk has to offer. Outside of the nutrients that babies gain from their mother’s milk, there is also the bonding and comfort factor to consider as each experience helps mother and child to form an emotional connection to one another. The National Resources Defense Council writes: “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 a few of the nutritional components of breast milk, but formula cannot hope to duplicate the vast and constantly changing array of essential nutrients in human milk.”


Nursing comes with a number of benefits not only for babies, but for mothers as well, especially in terms of burning additional calories and helping to tighten the stomach muscles after giving birth. As mothers nurse their babies the uterus contracts and helps to shrink and tighten stretched skin and muscles. It can also make it easier for both parents when it comes time for night time feedings; breastfeeding eliminates the need for bottles, which in turn eliminates the need for boiling nipples, warming formula, and making baby wait for food that could be made immediately available to him or her


Breast feeding can also help babies avoid the need for pacifiers, soothers or bottles later in their childhood if they can make the switch directly from a mother’s nipple to drinking from cups and eating solid food. This can prevent attachment to objects of this kind and make it easier for little ones to transition into more independent forms of feeding.


Finding Help


There are many services throughout the medical community and through third party organizations which promote breastfeeding and help new mothers who are having a difficult time with it to adjust and discover how it can be an advantage for baby’s immunity, and many other reasons. Nurses will often visit mother’s homes to make parents feel more comfortable about breastfeeding, and help with placement and finding more comfortable ways to nurse while still giving the infant all of the nutrients that she or he needs.


If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of breast feeding both in terms of your child’s immune system and the quality of nutrition they receive, you should speak to your doctor for more information. There are also various books and internet sites dedicated to breast feeding, advantages, and how to get started. Many of these books, sites, and your doctor can offer contact numbers to alternative support for mothers who have more questions or who require additional assistance with their nursing.

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