If you need yet another reason to breastfeed your baby (or feel guilty that you didn't), here's a new study that reinforces the benefits of a breast milk-only diet for the first six months of a baby's life.
The study shows babies who are fed breast milk exclusively (not even allowing for water) have a "significant reduction of respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases."
In other words: Step away from the formula.
If women worldwide embraced this advice, more than 1 million child deaths could be avoided each year, according to the WHO website.
"We've had various evidence for years that infectious diseases are minimized," Dr. Ruth Lawrence, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding, told CNN. "But we haven't had as much data in a developed country." She told them the study confirms the current recommendations from most major medical groups, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that breastfeeding for at least the first six months of a baby's life is important.
As well as the benefits to babies, there's a financial advantage to breastfeeding as well. The United States alone could save $13 billion a year if 90 percent of women followed these recommendations.
Studies like this are important reminders for mothers and mothers-to-be everywhere of the power of breast milk, and a great reinforcement for those who make that choice for their babies.
Unfortunately, breastfeeding isn't possible for everyone for a variety of reasons, from physical to financial, and as someone who struggled desperately with breastfeeding both of my babies and eventually gave up, it just adds to my guilt. It makes me wish I had tried a little harder, stuck it out a little longer.
For others who are currently struggling or will struggle, I hope it's a little extra motivation to keep on trying.
How long did you breastfeed or do you plan to breastfeed your baby? Do studies like this make you feel guilty if you didn't/aren't?
Image via Samllz711