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
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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
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
enrolment 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
centimetres 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
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
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.
Mothers 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.
Exclusive 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.
Increased 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 women's organizations.
Weak 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 defence against the common
diseases of infants, including diarrhea," say investigators at Harvard Medical
School in Boston, the Instituto Nacional de Nutrition 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 neighbourhood 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.