This spring, the federal Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research (AHRQ) published a report that evaluated the research on breast-feeding and children’s health. Assembling the data involved a year and a half of combing through more than 9,000 studies and reviews, selecting those that met strict quality criteria.Dr. Ruth Lawrence, who chairs the breast-feeding task force of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), said the result is the “most comprehensive, all-inclusive” document on breast-feeding in developed countries. “It’s an excellent report,” she said.
While it’s difficult to prove cause and effect with these studies, I think there is still something to be said for this kind of evidence, especially considering that the medical community and the formula companies have a lot of damage to undo from the years of formula and bottle feeding promotion. What I’m still waiting for is the research that proves that formula feeding is beneficial and has all these disease prevention possibilities.
With that in mind, the report found that breast-fed babies were:
* 64% less likely to develop gastrointestinal infections
* 72% less likely to be hospitalized for lower respiratory tract disease
* 23% to 50% less likely to develop ear infections
* 4% to 82% less likely to develop necrotizing enterocolitis if premature.
* 36% less likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome
* 42% less likely to develop atopic dermatitis
* 27% to 40% less likely to develop early-childhood asthma
* 15% to 19% less likely to develop childhood leukemia
* 19% to 27% less likely to develop Type 1 diabetes
* 7% to 24% less likely to be obese
* 39% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes
I do agree with those who say we shouldn’t scare women into breastfeeding and rather encourage and support women.
Dr. Darshak Sanghavi, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, said that the focus should be on helping women who want to breast-feed, rather than “browbeating” those who don’t.