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Breast Is Best: 4 Health Benefits of a Breast-Fed Baby

Attention to the health benefits of breast-feeding is flourishing, rooted in established and growing scientific evidence and proliferated by popular media.

1. Breast-feeding gives your baby’s health a boost

Breast-feeding protects against infant mortality and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Breast-feeding also lowers the risk of acute and chronic conditions including ear and respiratory infections, gastroenteritis, malocclusions, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, and childhood leukemia. Further, breast-feeding contributes to healthy brain development, improved cognition, and better educational achievement by age 5.

2. Breast-feeding benefits mothers, too

For mothers, breast-feeding reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and obesity, as well as breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers. Breast-feeding promotes more rapid weight loss and recovery from childbirth, and fosters mother-infant bonding.

3. Breast-feeding can help you cut costs

The economic and societal benefits are also significant. Breast milk, the perfect first food, provides complete nutrition and is totally free. Families can save up to $2,500 in the first year alone by eliminating the cost of infant formula even when the purchase of a breast pump and supplies is considered.

Health care costs are lower because healthier babies and mothers require fewer doctor visits and diagnostic tests, and workplace productivity is increased because of fewer missed days for the care of a sick child or a mother’s illness.

4. Breast-feeding is earth-friendly too

Breast-feeding reduces the carbon footprint by saving resources such as packaging, vast manufacturing costs and fuel for delivery of infant formula to retail locations.

Karla Shepard Rubinger, Ph.D., Executive Director, Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine and Irene Rayman, Ph.D., Corporate, Foundation and Government Relations, Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, [email protected]

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