New mothers often ask me about the benefits of breastfeeding versus bottle-feeding and the amount of time recommended for breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is a recommended in all infants except in rare instances. There are many benefits of breast milk that cannot be duplicated in infant formulas. Maternal infant bonding increases with breastfeeding. Recent studies have shown that breast milk reduce the incidence of serious bacterial infections, diarrhea, ear infections, and respiratory infections. The mother’s natural antibodies pass into the milk and confer protection from infections. A study has shown that infant death rates drop by 21% in breast fed infants. New research has shown that there are also long term benefits that persist beyond the breastfeeding ages. There are lower incidences of diabetes, obesity, leukemia, hypercholesterolemia, and asthma. In addition, there are natural substances in the milk that enhance brain and eye development. Formula manufacturers are attempting to mimic this effect by adding supplements to their formula now.
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