A feature article from drkoop.com covers the benefits of breast feeding babies. The article by Carole A. Stashwick, M.D. covers a variety of reasons why breast feeding is far superior to bottle feeding a baby when possible. Some of the reasons according to the article are:
- Breast milk from healthy mothers supplies all the nutrients needed for the growth of a healthy infant for at least the first six months of life.
- Babies who receive breast milk have many fewer illnesses in the first year of life.
- Breast-fed babies have fewer ear infections, fewer colds and viral illnesses, less diarrhea, less pneumonia and other chest infections — and the illnesses that they do get are less severe.
- According to one study, by 4 months of age, babies who never received breast milk are hospitalized 15 times more often than breast-fed babies.
- Breast-fed children have long-term protection against the later development of significant allergies, diabetes mellitus, inflammatory bowel disease and certain cancers.
- Studies also report that breast-fed children also have increased intelligence.
- Mothers who nurse also benefit by returning to their pre-pregnancy weight sooner, they have a later return of menstruation and probably ovulation, and they may be protected against breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
- Breast-feeding is also economical and saves a family at least $500 in the first year, even if you include the extra cost of the food needed by the breast-feeding mother
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that, whenever possible, babies be breast-fed for at least the first 12 months of life.