Breast Feeding Reduces Infant Illnesses - A recent study has shown that breastfeeding significantly reduces the occurrence of common infant illnesses such as respiratory tract infections, pneumonia, ear infections, and gastrointestinal disorders. In the 2 year study of 977 babies, a community program was implemented which urged women to breastfeed their infants rather than use baby formula. The program resulted in a significant increase in breastfeeding babies - 54.6%, up from 16.4%. During this time, the number of babies who developed pneumonia in the first year of life declined by 33% and the cases of gastroenteritis decreased by 15%.
According to researchers, their results suggest that "breast milk itself or the process of breastfeeding provides protection against infant illnesses." The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers breastfeed their babies for at least one year, "and longer if mutually desired by the mother and child."
- Pediatrics 1998;101:837-844.