"Breastfeeding and human milk are the normative standards for infant feeding and nutrition. Given the documented short- and long-term medical and neurodevelopmental advantages of breastfeeding, infant nutrition should be considered a public health issue and not only a lifestyle choice."

PEDIATRICS Volume 129, Number 3, March 2012

More Articles on A Healthy Pregnancy

Thinking About Getting Pregnant?
Congratulations on Your Pregnancy! (for those who are newly pregnant)
What is a healthy pregnancy weight gain?
Can I continue to eat a vegetarian diet during pregnancy?
A Pregnancy Menu For You and Your Baby
Treating Nausea and Vomiting
What About Seafood?
Don't Eat That!
Pregnancy and Cholesterol
Wash Those Veggies!
Breastmilk, the Healthiest Diet for Babies
What DOES that Broccoli Do for My Baby?
Vitamin D Supplements in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
New Research Affirms Individualized Vitamin D Supplementation for Pregnant Women
Breastfeeding: Developing a Future Gourmet
What to Do About The Flu
Gestational Diabetes
Decreasing the Risk of Gestation Diabetes
Keeping and Storing Breastmilk
Pregnancy Weight Gain Guidelines – Do We Need New Ones?
Breastfeeding: A Woman's Health Issue
Eating During Labor
Probiotics and a Decreased Risk of Gestational Diabetes
Pregnancy - a Time to be Active!
Clearing the Air : Quit Smoking for You and Your Child
What is a Healthy Pregnancy Diet for Obese Women?
Does Iron Intake Matter?
One Fish, Two Fish... Full Term Birth?
Folic acid in pregnancy and language development
A Mediterranean Diet, Pre-Pregnancy
There is No Substitute for a Healthy Diet
Honest Healthy Diets for Babies
Exercise for New Moms
A Healthy Pre-Pregnancy Diet and Gestational Diabetes
Vitamin D and Gestational Diabetes
Great News About Breastfeeding
Peanuts and Pregnancy
Fried Foods and Gestational Diabetes
Iodine supplements - should you take them?
Prevent Gestational Diabetes with a Mediterranean-style diet
FDA Updates Recommendations for Fish Consumption in Pregnancy

Faith Bontrager, RN, BSN

Faith Bontrager, RN, BSNFaith's passion in nursing is to help people find the options they need to discover their personal path to optimum health. Ask her friends and they will tell you that their appreciation of nutritious food has grown through Faith. About Faith Bontrager, RN, BSN


A Healthy Pregnancy

Honest Healthy Diets for Babies

For many years doctors told pregnant women, "Infant feeding is your choice; your baby will be fine with either breast milk or formula." This advice was still given long after research showed the value of breast milk to infants and the health benefits of breastfeeding to the mother.

Some physicians gave this advice in part because they didn’t want to appear "anti-woman." If a woman wanted to return to work in a timely fashion, it was felt that telling her the advantages of breastfeeding over formula feeding might appear to interfere with her career choice.

The problem with this line of reasoning is that it is not evidence-based. Certainly, a woman may choose to (or need to) return to work after giving birth. This may make breastfeeding more of a challenge or shorten its duration. However, women need to be given the best evidence medicine can give. They can consider this evidence as well as their own life circumstance as they make infant feeding decisions.

A woman who feels that her life circumstances prevent breastfeeding should not be made to feel guilty any more than the mother who buys canned vegetables instead of buying fresh vegetables because of a very limited budget. However, the time has come to treat all parents with honesty and say, "Breastfeeding is the standard for infant nutrition; there are health risks to not breastfeeding."

Here is the latest evidence about the risks of not breastfeeding (Pediatrics 2012: 129(3)).

Health Condition % Lower risk for breastfed babies
Otitis media 23-50%
Recurrent Otitis media 77%
Upper repiratory tract infection 63%
Lower respiratory tract infection 77%
Asthma 26-40%
RSV bronchiolitis 74%
NEC 77%
Atopic dermatitis 27-42%
Gastroenteritis 64%
Inflammatory bowel disease 64%
Obesity 24%
Celiac disease 52%
Type 1 diabetes 30%
Type 2 diabetes 40%
Leukemia 15 - 20%
SIDS 36%

The American Academy of Pediatricians has encouraged breastfeeding for quite some time. In 2005 they first published their current position: "Every infant should begin life with six months of exclusive breastfeeding, followed with another six months or longer with foods gradually added to the child’s diet."

The academy recently strengthened their statement by adding, "Recently, published evidence-based studies have confirmed and quantitated the risks of not breastfeeding."

Women over the centuries have looked for the best choices available to them when it came to feeding their children. Giving them accurate information will inform those decisions. Cheers to the American Academy of Pediatrics for honest discussions about infant feeding.

For further information, read Breastmilk, the Healthiest Diet for Babies and Breastfeeding: A Woman's Health Issue.

Nourish yourself and your child!