Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life is recommended, followed by continued breastfeeding to 1 year or longer as decided by mother and baby.
Growth of Breastfed Babies
This report emphasizes that infant growth should be monitored using the World Health Organization (WHO) growth charts to avoid mislabeling breastfed infants as underweight. The WHO growth charts are based on the normal growth patterns of the breastfed baby. See if your doctor uses these new growth charts or if they use the original reference charts published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (based mostly on formula fed babies’ growth). It may make a difference in how your breastfed baby’s growth pattern is assessed.
High Risk Babies
Premature infants should be exclusively fed breast milk to minimize infection risk and improve neurodevelopment.
Update of Infant Health Outcomes Related to Breastfeeding
Listed below are a sample of the improved health outcomes associated with breastfeeding.
23% lower risk of ear infections with any breastfeeding compared to exclusive formula feeding
50% lower risk of ear infections with exclusive breastfeeding ≥ 3 months
77% lower risk of recurrent ear infections with exclusive breastfeeding ≥ 6 months compared to BF 4-6 months
63% lower risk of upper respiratory infections with >6 months of exclusive breastfeeding
72% lower risk of lower respiratory infections with ≥4 months exclusive breastfeeding
77% lower risk of lower respiratory infections with ≥6 months exclusive breastfeeding compared to BF 4-6 months
Allergies and Asthma
40% lower risk of asthma with breastfeeding ≥ 3 months in children with a family history of allergies
26% lower risk of asthma with breastfeeding ≥ 3 months in children with no family history of allergies
27% lower risk of allergies with >3 months exclusive breastfeeding in children with no family history of allergies
42% lower risk of allergies with >3 months exclusive breastfeeding in children with a family history of allergies
64% lower risk in gastrointestinal infections with any breastfeeding, lasting up to 2 months after breastfeeding is stopped
31% decrease in risk of inflammatory bowel disease with any breastfeeding
Obesity & Diabetes
15-30% lower risk of obesity in adolescents and adults with any breastfeeding compared to no breastfeeding
30% decreased risk of type 1 diabetes with >3 months exclusive breastfeeding
40% decreased risk of type 2 diabetes with any breastfeeding
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
36% decreased risk of SIDS with any breastfeeding >1 month
Benefits for the Breastfeeding Mom
While it has been long known that breastfeeding mothers have decreased blood loss postpartum and faster return of the uterus to its pre-pregnancy state, more recent studies also show a decreased risk of postpartum depression and child abuse/neglect, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain cancers.
Today we have shared just a sample of what is in the full AAP policy report on breastfeeding. To view the full report, use the reference link below. There, you will also find information about maternal diet and medication use while breastfeeding, among other topics. Have a great weekend!
Click here for the full report: AAP Policy Statement: Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk