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Breast Milk vs. Formula
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The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least the first year of life, and the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least the first two years of life.

Many families breastfeed because they know it is healthier. However some families who breastfeed stop too soon because of community barriers. And how many families do not breastfeed at all because they are not aware of the immediate and lifelong health benefits? Every family has the right to decide how their baby will be fed, and they deserve accurate information to base that decision on. Breastfeeding helps a child maximize his or her potential, and offers lifelong benefits for the mother too.

Immediate Health Benefits for Breastfed Babies

  • Increased resistance to infections
  • Earlier development of the infant immune system
  • Decreased risk of ear infections
  • Decreased risk of diarrhea
  • Decreased risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
  • Baby is less likely to be hospitalized due to serious illness
  • Human milk is made to meet the specific needs of human babies, and it changes as the baby grows to offer the best combination of nutrients that make it easy for baby to digest and use 

Long-term Health Benefits for Breastfed Babies

  • Less childhood obesity
  • Reduced risk of some chronic diseases that develop during childhood including:
    • Juvenile diabetes
    • Childhood cancers
    • Allergic disease/asthma
  • Enhanced neurological development that may result in higher IQs and better eyesight
  • Suckling at the breast promotes good jaw development and encourages the growth of straight, healthy teeth

Immediate Health Benefits for a Mother Who Breastfeeds

  • Uterus returns to normal size more quickly and mother has reduced blood loss
  • Exclusive breastfeeding delays the return of fertility in most women
  • Reduced insulin needs in diabetic mothers
  • Psychological benefits of increased self-confidence and enhanced bonding with infant
  • Helps mother get needed rest by requiring that she sit or lie down with baby every few hours to feed

Long-term Health Benefits for a Mother Who Breastfeeds

  • Earlier return to pre-pregnancy weight, with no return of weight once weaning occurs
  • Reduced risk of breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers
  • Reduced risk of osteoporosis and bone fracture

Social and Economic Benefits for Breastfeeding Families, Employers & Health Systems

  • Family savings of several hundred dollars when the cost of breastfeeding is compared to the cost of using artificial formula
  • Employers benefit because mothers of breastfed children have reduced absenteeism and take fewer sick days
  • Reduced health care costs since breast fed babies usually require fewer sick care visits, prescriptions, and hospitalizations
  • Breastfeeding is convenient because breast milk is always available at the right temperature, and requires no mixing 
  • See Also:
  • Economic Benefits of Breastfeeding: A Review and Analysis