Breastfeeding Can Save Thousands Of Children's Lives Each Year, Study Shows, Plus 4 Other Amazing Benefits
By now, it's no secret that the breastfeeding benefits for a baby and a mother are almost immeasurable. From creating a close bond between mother and child at the earliest stages of development, to strengthening a baby's immune system, there's no argument that breastfeeding is one of the best options for a child's health. That being said, many women both in high-income and low-income countries are still opting for formula. Well, a recent overview of studies surrounding breastfeeding is giving the world another reason why we need to reconsider how we look at breastfeeding, and quickly.
In a two-part series of studies published in The Lancet, researchers found that making breastfeeding a more universal practice could save more than 800,000 infant lives each year, amounting to about 13 percent of all childhood deaths under two years old. If that isn't incredible enough, researchers also found that breastfeeding could also prevent 20,000 mothers' deaths from breast cancer each year.
The study found that one in five children from high-income countries will be breastfed up to 12 months (the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until the age of two), while one in three children in low and middle-income countries will only be breastfed for the first six months. It's true that breastfeeding for over a year is no easy feat for any mother, but if the above stats weren't convincing enough, here are a few other benefits of breastfeeding both found by the most recent overview, and other similar studies.
1. It Will Boost Your Baby's Immune System
When babies are born, most of their immune system's line of defense comes from their mother, which is made all the stronger thanks to breastfeeding. According to Everyday Family, when a mother breastfeeds her child, a mother's immunoglobins (aka all the stuff that will fight off disease) will coat a baby's main sites of infection including their throats, intestines, nose, and other mucus membranes. As a result, babies are less likely to suffer from diarrhea episodes, and respiratory infections.
2. It Sets Up Your Baby's Health For Life
More and more studies are finding that breastfeeding your child will dictate the future of their health. For instance, children who are breastfed for longer periods of time have improved cognitive function and higher levels of intelligence. Some research has even found that breastfed babies have different gut bacteria than formula fed babies, which may contribute to a decrease in instances of food allergies.
3. It Saves A Whole Lot Of Money
On a more global scale, the Series study found that universal breastfeeding will contribute to a large decrease in healthcare costs. Increasing the amount of mothers breastfeeding their babies to 90 percent in the U.S. would mean less healthcare costs would go to treating childhood illnesses like pneumonia, diarrhea, and asthma. As a result, this could save the United States an estimated $2.45 billion dollars each year.
4. It Can Help Prevent Childhood Leukemia
A study from June published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found that mothers who breastfeed their babies for six months or longer could reduce their child's risk of developing leukemia by 19 percent. Although this number sounds small, it's actually very significant. Considering that cancer is the second leading cause of childhood deaths in the United States, and leukemia represents 30 percent of those cancer cases, this makes for a dramatic decrease in possible risk.
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