Does breastfeeding offer more benefits than you expect?

May 15, 2013 12:00 AM by

Women who breastfeed often enjoy a deep bond with their babies and a feeling that their little boys or girls are getting the vital nutrients that they need to thrive and be as healthy as possible.

While breast milk is known to offer an array of benefits to infants, including supplying vital nutrients, several recent studies have revealed that women who choose breastfeeding after pregnancy may be giving their children the gift of more than just a steady food source.

In fact, women who breastfeed may be strengthening their little ones against behavioral health problems and improving their own well-being in the process.

Breastfeeding and blood pressure
According to a recent study by the University of Western Sydney, women who breastfeed are 9 percent less likely to be affected by high blood pressure than those who have never given birth.

Compared to women who have given birth but chose not to breastfeed, these mothers were 20 to 45 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure, The Hindu reported.

"Whenever possible, women should be encouraged to breastfeed as long as possible as the protective effect of breastfeeding increases with the length of the time of breastfeeding," said Joanne Lind of the UWS School of Medicine.

Preventing ADHD with breast milk
A research team led by Aviva Mimouni-Bloch, M.D., that examined the histories of children between the ages of 6 and 12 who were diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder revealed that youngsters who were breastfed as infants were less likely to have the condition than those who weren't.

Characterized by inattentiveness and overactivity, ADHD is prevalent in the U.S. This study, which was published in Breastfeeding Medicine, the official journal of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, demonstrates that the link between breastfeeding and ADHD is significant, particularly if youngsters were fed between 3 to 6 months of age, Health Canal reported.

Formula use before breastfeeding
Can formula consumption prior to breastfeeding help enhance a child's long-term wellness? The University of California at San Francisco recently conducted a study where they discovered that early formula use can help women breastfeed for a greater length of time, even if doses are only in small amounts.

Lead author Valerie Flaherman, M.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics and epidemiology and biostatistics at UCSF, noted that early limited formula consumption can augment the benefits of breastfeeding and reduce the stress that a new mother may feel about breastfeeding her first child full time, Science Recorder reported. 

Before you decide to explore this method, you should be sure to reach out to your local healthcare provider for more details. 

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