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10 scientific studies to promote breastfeeding.

1. Breastfeeding: Why doctors are so wrong about solids
14 August 2008 
Doctors are keen to introduce solids as early as possible as a supplement to breast feeding and they couldnt be more wrong.

Babies who are exclusively breastfed for the first three months at least and sometimes for the first 12 months have better cognitive abilities and general intelligence by the time they are six.

Compared with children who were fed solids early on, breastfed babies registered far higher scores for verbal IQ, performance IQ and general IQ when they were tested at six-and-a-half years.� 

Researchers made the discovery when they assessed the cognitive development of 13,889 children who were exclusively breastfed for a prolonged period.

(Source: Archives of General Psychiatry, 2008; 65: 578-84).

2. Exclusive breast feeding can curb non insulin diabetes
01 September 1997 

Breastfeeding could provide protection against non insulin dependent diabetes (NIDDM), researchers believe. Babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first two months of life have a far lower rate of NIDDM than those also given cow's milk formula.
Other research had found that insulindependent diabetes was linked to an early exposure to cow's milk, but the role of breastfeeding as a protective agent against NIDDM had never been explored.
Researchers from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in Phoenix, Arizona studied 720 Pima Indians, a group with a high prevalence of NIDDM, and found that the group that was exclusively breastfed had significantly lower rates of NIDDM (Lancet, 1997; 350: 166-8),

3. Diabetes: more on cow's milk
01 December 1996 

The theory that diabetes is caused by a too early exposure to cow's milk usually as a substitute for breast milk has been supported with a scientific explanation as to why it might happen.
Scientists have discovered that the beta casein in cow's milk can trigger an immune response which may, in turn, cross react with an antigen to cause an allergic reaction.
They tested for antigen levels in 47 patients who had recently developed insulin dependent diabetes, and compared them with 36 healthy people. Twenty four diabetics tested positive for beta casein, against just one in the healthy group, and there were no significant differences in other antigen levels.

These findings, by researchers at the University of Rome and St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, give scientific credence to the "cow's milk hypothesis", as it is known. Several population studies have indicated that the risk of diabetes when exposed to cow's milk in the first few months of life increases one and a half times. This seems a low risk level if the latest findings are right. As all the best research papers say, more research is needed and urgently (The Lancet, 1996; 348: 926-8).

A link between cow's milk and multiple sclerosis (MS) has been suggested by Michel Odent and his Primal Health Research Centre. Early consumption of cow's milk protein is a risk factor, he believes, while research from as long ago as 1974 indicated that cow's milk was the major determinant of MS. Dr Odent also quotes the work of Professor Roy Zwank from Portland, Oregon, who has noted that MS sufferers who consume less than 15 g of saturated fatty acids a day have no relapse.

For more information on diabetes, see WDDTY vol 3, no 7 and vol 5, no 9. 

!APrimal Health Research 1996; 4: 1-2.
4. Contraceptive effects of breast feeding?
01 November 1990 

Scientists are now confirming what every great grandmother used to take for granted namely, that breastfeeding both contributes to lower fertility and also increases the birth interval.
A recent article in The Lancet alleges that breastfeeding provides more than a 98 per cent contraceptive effect in the first six months after birth. A maximum birth spacing can be achieved when a mother solely or nearly solely breastfeeds her baby and does not menstruate. This could provide an easy, nutritious and cheap means of population control in third world countries, says a Lancet noticeboard follow up.
5. Breastfeeding helps prevent childhood obesity
01 July 2001 

New research examining the relationship between infant feeding and childhood obesity suggests that breastfeeding may have a protective effect.
Using data from approximately 15,000 participants in the Nurses Health Study II, Harvard researchers found that those children who were exclusively or mostly fed on breastmilk for the first six months of life had a significantly lower risk of being overweight when they reached adolescence (ages 9-14 years) (J Am Med Assoc, 2001; 285: 2461-67).
Another survey in the same journal failed to find such a strong association between breastfeeding and obesity. However, the accompanying editorial noted that this latter study may not be as conclusive since the size of the sample population (2685 children) and the number of women who breastfed exclusively for six months (31 per cent) were relatively small. 

Also, this survey measured the effects on obesity at a younger age at three to five years. The protective effect of breastfeeding, say the authors, may take longer than that to become apparent (J Am Med Assoc, 2001; 285: 2453-60).
6.Breastfeeding: - It also protects against hypertension

Last week we mentioned that breastfeeding our babies was probably not such a bad idea, especially as those who are introduced to cereals too early are more likely to develop celiac disease.
Since then we've heard some more good news about breastfeeding (as though anyone needed convincing). Researchers have found that babies who are exclusively breastfed are protected from hypertension later in life. It's so protective that it is equivalent to the elimination of salt from the diet and exercise in adult life.
This new discovery was made by researchers who have analysed the health records of 2,000 children participating in the European youth heart study.
7. Preemies reap benefits of breastmilk
01 April 2001 

Babies born prematurely are at greater risk of heart disease in later life. But, feeding them breastmilk rather than formula can substantially cut this risk.
To test the theory that breastmilk may have long term heart benefits, researchers followed a group of 926 premature infants, who were fed either banked breastmilk, preterm formula or standard formula.
Assessments made when the children were aged 13-16 years revealed that mean blood pressure was significantly lower by more than 4 mmHg in those who received the breastmilk. Among infants whose mother breastfed them in addition to the prescribed diet, blood pressure was lower still in the banked milk group than in the formula groups.

Results like this show the importance of taking in the bigger picture when it comes to infant feeding. For instance, in this study, infants who were fed synthetic milk grew faster than those fed on breastmilk. In the eyes of many physicians, steady and significant weight gain is the single most important sign of health in premature babies.

However, it is clear that other, less easily measurable factors are also important. 

Many hospitals still discourage mothers from holding their premature babies, let alone breast feeding them. These may be practices based on outdated policies rather than scientific evidence (Lancet, 2001; 357: 406-7, 413-9).
8. Breastfeeding: It’s not as bad as they say
08 November 2007 

There seems to be a school of thought in medicine that just doesn’t like breastfeeding. Not exclusive breastfeeding, at any event, and certainly not for any prolonged time.
As if to vindicate this stance, researchers have ‘proved’ that breastfeeding doesn’t offer the child any protection against allergies and asthma in later life. Breastfeeding advocates have always claimed that this was one of its many benefits.
Unfortunately, the data doesn’t support the researchers’ assertions.
This ‘new’ study is, in fact, quite an old study that was carried out six years ago, in 2001. And the aim of the original research had nothing to do with asthma or allergy. It set out to discover whether gastrointestinal infection could be reduced by breastfeeding.  
Somehow this same data was this year dressed up with the new title ‘Effect of prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding on risk of allergy and asthma’.
We wonder why?
(Source: British Medical Journal, 2007; 335: 899).

9. Breastfeeding: breastfeeding: - Why more new mums don't do it

It's Breastfeeding Awareness Week in Britain, as if we should need reminding that breast is best for baby. The statistics suggest we do. At birth, 69 per cent of babies born in the UK are being breastfed, but this drops to just 55 per cent after one week, and by six weeks to just 42 per cent.
The problem is certainly cultural, but it's also hormonal. WDDTY panelist and natural birth pioneer Dr Michel Odent explains that a natural birth is vital for the release of hormones that allow breastfeeding to begin. For example, a woman in labour releases endorphin that, in turn, helps the generation of prolactin, which begins the cycle of milk production. This process can be stopped, or slowed, by any interference to the natural birth process. Even pharmaceutical drugs can affect the delicate balance.
It's no accident, he says, that countries with a high caesarean rate also have a low breastfeeding rate. In the UK, caesarean rates have increased slightly to 23 per cent, according to the latest NHS statistics for 2003. One in eight women had 'instrumental deliveries', such as the use of forceps or vacuum extraction, and just 46 per cent of women had a normal delivery. 
It's interesting to note that the 42 per cent of women who persist with breastfeeding equates to the 46 per cent who had a normal delivery.
10. Breastfeeding for the brainier
01 January 1995 

Further proof that breast is best comes from researchers who have discovered that breastfed babies enjoy a slight advantage in their neurological development than babies given formula milk.
The critical period seems to be the first three weeks of life when breast milk can be particularly beneficial. It can be especially crucial in helping the development of a child slightly disadvantaged neurologically at birth.
A study team from the University Hospital at Groningen in the Netherlands studied 135 breast fed children and 391 fed on formula nine years later. 

The researchers, led by Dr C I Lanting, believe that polyunsaturated fats found in breast milk may have a role in brain development (The Lancet, 12 November 1994).

Breastfeeding offers a baby natural immunity against many life threatening illnesses, The Lancet says in an editorial. Despite this, many mothers are still discouraged from breastfeeding and are not given the support they need in the early stages.

!AThe Lancet, 5 November 1994.

1 comment:

  1. The fact that Scientists are able to find some validity of the Old Wife's Tales or old Grandmother's tales, only goes to indicate that the traditionally held views, in different cultures could have an element of local validity.
    Thus all traditional knowledge can not be termed as blind superstition.