Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding

Did you know that the national average of breastfed infants at 6 months is 51.4%, but drops down to 29.2% at 12 months of age?  Idaho alone shows that 58.2% of infants are breastfed at 6 months while only 27.9% of infants are breastfed at 12 months.1 The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding for at least up to 12 months, while the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends to continue breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or longer.2

Why is this?

Breastfeeding your infant has many benefits:

  • Breast milk naturally contains nutrients infants need to grow and develop3
  • Breast milk has antibodies that can help build up the infants immune system
  • Reduce likelihood for ear infection4
  • Decrease risk in diarrheal disease
  • Protection from allergies, such as eczema

Although breastfeeding provides many benefits to the infant, it also has many benefits for the mother:

  • Tends to be easier for the mother to lose weight after pregnancy
  • Can help the uterus get back to normal size with the oxytocin release
  • Reduce risk of osteoporosis
  • Decrease risk of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer
  • Increase emotional health by reducing anxiety, creating a stronger bond with the child, and more
  • Potential economic savings

According to findings from WHO and a new series on breastfeeding published January 2016 in “The Lancet”, breastfeeding can result in large economic savings. Just in the U.S., boosting breastfeeding rates for infants below 6 months could cut treatment costs of common childhood illnesses, such as pneumonia, diarrhea and asthma, by almost $300 billion.5

One of the main goals for Healthy People 2020 is to improve the health and well-being women, infants, children, and families.6 Their four objectives to help make a push for women to breastfeed their infants are:7

  1. Increase the proportion of infants who are breastfed
  2. Increase the proportion of employers that have worksite lactation support programs
  3. Reduce the proportion of breastfed newborns who receive formula supplementation within the first two days of life
  4. Increase the proportion of live births that occur in facilities that provide recommended care for lactating mothers and their babies

Graph

Where can you go to get support for breastfeeding in your community?

  • Hospital
  • Women, Infant, Children (WIC) program
  • La Leche League
  • International Lactation Consultant Association
  • Breastfeeding Helpline

For more information on where to get breastfeeding support and the benefits of breastfeeding, visit Idaho Health and Welfare.

 

Written by Idaho State University Dietetic Student,

Karlie Petti

References:
1 https://nccd.cdc.gov/NPAO_DTM/LocationSummary.aspx?statecode=94
2 http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/faq/
3 https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000803.htm
4 http://www.nrdc.org/breastmilk/benefits.asp
5 http://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/news_events/news/2016/exclusive-breastfeeding/en/
6 https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/maternal-infant-and-child-health
7 http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/policy/hp2020.htm
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