click to enlarge photo UNICEF, India
|Breast-Feeding Fights Cancer Breast-feeding not only makes babies healthier, it's also good for mothers. A study published in the American Journal of
Epidemiology finds that prolonged breast-feeding may dramatically cut a woman's risk for breast cancer. In the study, Yale
University researchers looked at data from 1997-1999 on 808 rural Chinese women aged 30 to 80. Half the women studied had had
breast cancer while the other half had not. The researchers found that women who had breast-fed for two years or longer
reduced their risk for breast cancer by 50 percent . The lower risk was for cancer that develop both before and after menopause.
The number of babies a woman breast-fed and her age when she first breast-fed did not appear to affect her cancer risk, the
researchers found. The researchers did not investigate why breast-feeding might lower the risk for breast cancer. They say
it could be because breast-feeding reduces a woman's exposure to estrogen or because lactating breasts are less likely to store
fat-soluble carcinogens, The Associated Press reports. The researchers say their findings suggest that American women should
be encouraged to breast-feed for longer than most usually do, according to the AP. more on breast cancer
more on the benefits of breast-feeding
Breast Feeding Better for Low-Weight Babies Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Scientists from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health have found that exclusive breastfeeding is best for low-birth-weight infants during
the first six months of life. Studies conducted in Bangladesh show that
babies born small at birth, if exclusively breast-fed, had significantly
better chances for catch-up growth compared to small infants given other
fluids or foods during the first six months. The report appears in the March
2001 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study also found that the differences in weight and length between low-birth-weight infants and their heavier peers remained the same
throughout the first year of life. This is in contrast to babies born in more developed countries, where pre-term and small infants usually
grow faster and eventually catch-up to their heavier peers later in life. Said senior author Abdullah Baqui, associate professor, International Health, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, "Infants born in the
slums of Dhaka appear to be confined within 'growth channels' determined at birth, so that bigger babies grew ever bigger relative to their
smaller peers." Although shorter babies did appear to make up some of their shortfall in the first six months, the taller babies grew relatively
even taller in the second six months of life. The researchers observed a group of infants born in Dhaka from birth until age 12 months during 1993-1995. Each baby's weight and length were
measured at enrollment and again during follow-up visits carried out at ages
1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. Information was also collected on feeding and illness
since birth. Almost half of the newborns (46.4 percent) were low-birth-weight (under 2,500 grams). Pre-term deliveries accounted
for 17 percent of all infants, and almost 70 percent of the samples were small for
gestational age. A little more than half of the infants were exclusively breastfed at one month of age, a figure that declined to about a
quarter of the infants by three months. All other factors remaining constant, infants who were exclusively breastfed in the first three months were on average about 95 grams
heavier and 0.5 centimeters taller at 12 months than those partially or not breastfed. In addition, the investigation showed that foods and
fluids other than breast milk, if given before age six months, had an independent
negative effect on the weight and length an infant will attain. "This," said Dr. Baqui, 'further strengthens the argument that complementary
foods before six months of life are not necessary and are frequently detrimental." The investigators also studied the effects of illness on growth. Diarrhea negatively affected both weight and length significantly in both
newborns and those past six months of age. Acute respiratory infection had a
significant negative association with weight but not length, and the size of this effect was larger in the older infants. The authors emphasized that a better understanding of the role of nutritional status at birth in infant growth could help policy
makers in developing countries to forge appropriate decisions about health programs.
The scientists said that breastfeeding's sustained effect on growth and its even more beneficial effect in lighter infants were compelling
reasons for promoting exclusive breastfeeding in early infancy. They hope their
results will provide renewed impetus to the efforts for the promotion of breastfeeding, especially exclusive breastfeeding in the first six
months of life.
Study Bolsters Evidence That Breast-Fed Babies Are Healthier
CHICAGO (AP) - A study of more than 16,000 Eastern European mothers offers some of the strongest evidence yet that breast-feeding makes babies healthier. more information on breast-feeding
Breast-Fed Is Best
Researchers have even stronger evidence that breast-fed babies are healthier. A study of 16,000 Eastern European women found
that intensive breast-feeding makes babies significantly less likely to develop intestinal infections and eczema. In the
study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers from Montreal's McGill University looked
at births at 31 hospitals and clinics in Belarus. Half of these hospitals and clinics were assigned to implement an intensive
breast-feeding program, in which women were given instruction and counseling, while the rest provided their usual obstetric care.
The study is different from others on breast-feeding because it sets up an experimental and a control group rather than relying
on after-the-fact data to draw conclusions, The Associated Press reports. The researchers found that by age 12 months, nearly 20
percent of the babies involved in the breast-feeding program were still nursing, compared to 11.4 percent of the control group. In
that time, 9 percent of babies in the breast-feeding program had at least one intestinal infection and 3 percent of them developed
an allergic skin condition called atopic eczema. Among the babies in the control group, those figures were 13 percent and 6
percent. Earlier research has linked breast-feeding to a host of benefits including fewer earaches and colds and fewer cases of
asthma and other allergies, the AP says. more on breast-feeding
more on babies' health
Vitamin D Supplementation Urged For Breast-Fed, Dark-Skinned Infants
Dark-skinned infants are at increased risk of developing rickets, particularly if they are primarily breast-fed, according to researchers in Texas.
Breast Milk Fights Infant Diarrhea - Johns Hopkins
Breast-Feeding Cuts Obesity Risk
LONDON -Babies are less likely to grow up into fat children if they are fed breast milk exclusively, a new study shows providing powerful ammunition for
the campaign to encourage mothers to choose the breast over the bottle.
Breast Is Best But Soy Milk Has Benefits Too, Say Docs (Medical Tribune) - Hot on the heels of a German study that found breastfed babies were less likely than formula-fed ones to
become obese, controversial new information suggests that soy formula may provide other health benefits that breastfeeding does not.
Who Breastfeed Advised Not To Smoke
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) -- Breast-fed infants whose mothers smoke have a 5 times higher
level of cotinine, a nicotine by-product, in their urine than infants of smokers who do
not breastfeed, Canadian researchers report. But since breastfeeding has been shown to
protect against a number of ailments, including respiratory illnesses, the findings should
encourage nursing moms to quit smoking, not to stop breastfeeding, according to the report
in the July issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.
Breastfeeding Cuts Child's Asthma Risk
SAN DIEGO (Reuters Health) -- Exclusive breastfeeding through 4 months of age protects
against asthma for at least the first 6 years of life, according to Dr. Wendy
Oddy, of the TVW Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Perth, Western Australia.
Breast Feeding Could Save Lives, Study Finds
UNITED NATIONS (NYT Syndicate) - Increased breast-feeding could save the lives of up to
1.5 million of the roughly 12 million children under the age of 5 who die every year
around the world, according to initial findings presented here this week by a group of
Link Found Between Pacifiers, Breastfeeding
Giving an infant a pacifier soon after birth may affect breastfeeding later, according to
the first U.S. study to look at the association.
Breast Milk Fights Infant Diarrhea
In addition to infection-fighting antibodies, human breast milk also
contains a compound that helps babies fight rotavirus infection, the leading cause of
serious infant diarrhea, say researchers. Breast milk may "provide several tiers of active defense against the common diseases
of infants, including diarrhea," say investigators at Harvard Medical School in
Boston, the Instituto Nacional de Nutricion in Mexico City, and elsewhere. Their study, published in the April 18th issue of The Lancet, focused on the incidence of
rotavirus infection (both with and without symptoms) in a group of 200 infants born in a
low-income neighborhood of Mexico City. Rotavirus is a special threat to children born to poor families, since the rapid
dehydration associated with chronic infant diarrhea can be fatal if left untreated.