Breastfeeding reduces the risk of intestinal disorders for babies. Infants, especially those born prematurely, are at increased risk for a potentially lethal gastrointestinal disease called necrotizing enterocolitis, also known as NEC. The researchers found that a protein called neuregulin-4 (NRG4) can help reduce this risk. However, this protein can be found only in breast milk and not in formula milk. According to statistics, more than 13 percent of babies with NEC die from the disease, and even survivors can face lifelong consequences that may include removal of part of their intestine and dependence upon intravenous nutrition. (The American Journal of Pathology, October 2014, pp. 2768-2778)
Breastfeeding beyond two months helps babies reduce the risk of obesity. Those children at higher risk for rising weight gain should breastfeed for a longer duration. Researcher Stacy Carling said: “Breastfeeding, especially on demand (versus on a schedule), allows an infant to feed when he/she is hungry, thereby fostering an early development of appetite control. When a baby breastfeeds, she can control how much milk she gets and how often, naturally responding to internal signals of hunger and satiation. (“Breastfeeding Duration and Weight Gain Trajectory in Infancy,” Pediatrics, December 2014)
Nine policies have been passed in Pakistan from 2007 to 2012 to favor breastfeeding but these programs have had no impact. Only about one-third of the babies are breastfed exclusively for the first six months, the worst rate among South Asian countries. On average, 25 to 30 mothers take their babies to the public hospitals daily due to acute diarrhea. As the researcher said, “Mothers should exclusively breastfeed their babies at least during the first six months and avoid formula milk which is the root cause of many diseases including diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections among children.” Mothers need to learn the importance of breastfeeding. In Pakistan there is a high infant mortality rate owing to low breastfeeding and high bottle feeding rate. “According to experts, human milk is important for nourishment, survival and growth of infants. Breastfeeding in the first six months of life stimulates babies’ immune systems and protects them from diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections, the two major causes of infant mortality, and improves their responses to vaccination. Only one-third of all infants in developing countries are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life.” (“Breastfeeding: As bottle feeding trend rises, so does infant mortality,” The Express Tribune and International New York Times, December 1, 2014)
Sheila: Everyone doing ministry work in other countries should be strong promoters for breastfeeding if they want to save lives.
Breastfeeding problems were linked to an injection after birth. The study included 288 mothers who were given an injection, ergotmetrine, to speed up the delivery of the placenta. Those mothers who were given the injections were prone to more breastfeeding problems and were less likely to be breastfeeding past two weeks. (Breastfeeding Medicine, December 2014, Vol. 9, No. 10, 494-502)
An analysis of more than 36,000 women in 4 continents found that breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer by up to 20%. Breastfeeding mothers are “about 12% less likely to develop breast cancer” and “the protective benefit could be even higher.” (San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, December 11, 2014)
A study found that 50% of babies who have tongue-tie will not experience any problem. “Frenulotomy in the newborn is a low-rish procedure performed without anaesthetic” and should be done only by those trained to do so. The procedure should only be done for the comfort and continuation of breastfeeding. (“Tongue-tie and frenolotomy in infants with breastfeeding difficulties: achieving a balance,” Archives of Disease in Childhood, doi:10.1136/archdischild-2014-306211)
Exclusive breastfeeding was compared with other forms of infant feeding in children from single births (502,948 singletons) during the years 1997 to 2013 in Scotland. Those infants who were formula-fed or mixed-fed had more hospitalizations for common childhood illnesses compared with infants exclusively breastfed for 6-8 weeks of age. These childhood illnesses included gastrointestinal, respiratory and urinary tract infections, otitis media, fever, asthma, diabetes, and dental caries. The researchers said in an interview: “Our findings were consistent with other studies and showed a greater risk of hospital admission amongst infants who were not breastfed particularly within six months of birth… At least one in five hospitalizations for gastrointestinal and lower respiratory tract infections within six months of birth may have been averted (all other factors remaining constant) had all children in the cohort been exclusively breastfed 6 to 8 weeks after birth. The association was also evident beyond six months of birth.” (“Breastfeeding is Associated with Reduced Childhood Hospitalization,” The Journal of Pediatrics, online Dec. 30, 2014)
For 1 million babies every year, their day of birth is also their day of death, accounting for more than a third of neonatal deaths. Evidence shows that when mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth, the baby’s risk of neonatal death is reduced by 44 per cent. Globally, fewer than half of newborns are put to the breast immediately after birth, and even lower proportions are exclusively breastfed during their first six months of life. Close to 2 million newborns die in the first week of life. Children born shortly after another sibling are also at greater risk of dying than those born after longer intervals between births….Another important determinant of newborn survival is birth spacing. Children born less than two years after their closest older sibling are nearly twice as likely to die during the first month of life as those born two or three years later. (“Child Survival” UNICEF, NY, September 2014)
Sheila: We would save a lot of babies by promoting and teaching ecological breastfeeding. Mothers would breastfeed immediately, do exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, and would experience the natural spacing of two to three years between babies which God provides for both mother and baby. It is part of God’s plan, but is often ignored by the medical profession and those involved in church ministry.