We have all been made to believe that breastfeeding is good for a young baby, but according to researchers from Harvard Medical School and the Cambridge Health Alliance, breastfeeding is not only good for children, but also for their mothers, providing more health benefits and preventing more maternal diseases than previously known.
According to a new study published online in Maternal & Child Nutrition, breastfeeding for a total of one year and exclusively for six months — could protect babies and their mums from premature death.
According to the study’s lead author Dr. Melissa Bartick, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Cambridge Health Alliance: “Breastfeeding is far more beneficial in preventing disease and reducing costs than previously estimated,”
“The results should compel all hospitals to develop programs aimed at helping new moms learn to breastfeed their babies.”
To conduct the study, the researchers modelled two groups. One was an “optimal” group, in which the majority of moms breastfed as recommended. That group was compared with a “suboptimal” group, in which moms breastfed at current rates in the US, which are less than the recommended guidelines. Using existing research and government data, they projected the rates and costs of diseases that breastfeeding is known to reduce, along with the rates and costs of early deaths from those diseases.
Children’s diseases included in the evaluation were acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, ear infections, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, gastrointestinal infections, lower respiratory tract infections, obesity, necrotizing enterocolitis and SIDS. For mothers, the study included breast cancer, pre-menopausal ovarian cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart attacks.