A new study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology says that feeding infants formula in their first days of life prevents babies from developing an allergy to cow's milk.
In the study, the longest and largest prospective study of its kind, the researchers looked at the feeding history of 13,019 infants. Children who were started on infant formula containing cow's milk protein in the first through the 15th days of life were almost completely protected from developing Cows Milk Protein Allergy (CMA) -- 19 times more protected than babies fed cow's milk protein after 15 days. CMA can be dangerous to babies, leading to rashes, respiratory problems, shock and even death, so this boost to the immune system early in life acts as a "vaccination."
What's interesting about this study (besides the obvious) is they recommend that babies get one bottle of formula every day for the first 15 days of life. Something we've been told to avoid at all costs.
Introducing formula later than 15 days has no value and can even trigger a cow's milk allergy if given during the three- to five-month period after birth. Which is the previous recommendation for introducing a bottle, if not introducing formula.
The study doesn't advocate for formula or decry breastfeeding, explaining that you can nurse all day long, just slip in some formula at some point. I had a friend who had to formula feed early on, but was offered a contraption that still allowed the food to be placed near her nipple, so the baby could simulate nursing.
Of course, as the doctor points out, giving the baby a bottle is an excellent way for dad to step in and bond with the baby too.
Will you follow the advice in this study to give formula to your breastfed newborn?
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