Practical benefits of breastfeeding

Practical benefits of breastfeeding
  • Publish date:31/08/2009
  • Section:Parents
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Allah Almighty Says (what means): "…His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination." [Quran 31: 14]      

In this article, we will shed light on some facts discovered by modern medicine and study that confirm the Wisdom of Allah, The Almighty, and the completeness and perfection of Islam.

Human milk, the best food for babies, contains the right amount of nutrients, in the right proportions, for the growing baby. A living, biological fluid; it contains many unique components. For example, lactoferrin (a glycoprotein that belongs to the iron transporter or transferrin family) provides optimal absorption of iron and protects the gut from harmful bacteria; lipases assist in digestion of fats; and special growth factors and hormones contribute to optimal growth and development. The mother's own milk changes during a feeding from thirst-quenching to hunger-satisfying, and comes in a variety of flavors as the mother's diet varies. Its composition changes as the baby grows to meet the baby's changing nutritional needs.

Breastfeeding and the immune system:

Human milk is the baby's first immunization. It provides antibodies which protect the baby from many common respiratory and intestinal diseases, and also contains living immune cells. First milk, colostrum, is packed with components which increase immunity and protect the newborn's intestines. Breastfeeding as an infant also provides protection from developing immune system cancers such as lymphoma, bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease and celiac sprue, and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, all of which are related to immune system function. Additionally, breastfed babies generally mount a more effective response to childhood immunizations. In all these cases, benefits begin immediately, and increase with increasing duration of breastfeeding.

Babies from families with a tendency to allergic diseases particularly benefit from breastfeeding. Breastfeeding provides protection against allergies, asthma, and eczema.

Some conclusions come to by modern medicine concerning breastfeeding:

Breastfed babies:

  • Get sick less often and get less severe illnesses
  • Are hospitalized less often and have a lower rate of mortality
  • Have a lower risk of diarrheal disease
  • Have a lower incidence of gastrointestinal illness
  • Have a lower risk of urinary tract infections
  • Have a lower incidence of respiratory disease
  • Have a lower incidence of otitis media ear infections
  • Have a lower incidence of allergies
  • Have a lower rate of pneumonia
  • Have lower rates of obesity
  • Have a lower incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Have fewer learning and behavior difficulties

Breastfeeding:

  • Helps bond mother and child
  • Confers passive immunity
  • Is protective against measles and other communicable diseases
  • Provides optimal growth and neurological development
  • Prevents malocclusion and leads to better teeth and jaw development
  • Protects against hypothermia
  • Provides partial protection against necrotising entercolitis
  • Provides major protection against bacteremia and meningitis
  • Reduces the incidence of childhood lymphoma
  • Enhances visual development
  • Provides protection against neonatal sepsis
  • Is less risky for premature babies and low birth rate babies

Artificially fed babies:

  • Have an increased risk factor for juvenile diabetes
  • May have impaired antibody response to vaccines
  • Have a higher risk of inflammatory illness
  • Have a higher risk of celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, cholera, and neonatal hypocalcemic tetany
  • Have higher rates of middle ear infections, pneumonia, and cases of gastroenteritis (stomach flu)

Benefits for the mother from breastfeeding:

  • Bonds mother and child
  • Provides the mother hormonal induced contentment
  • Encourages efficient uterine contractions after childbirth
  • Allows mothers to lose pregnancy weight and size faster
  • Is convenient since the milk is pre-warmed, clean and always available
  • Is cost effective and saves money
  • Contributes to natural family planning
  • Contributes to household food security
  • Fosters confidence and promotes self-esteem
  • Reduces the incidence of urinary tract infections
  • Is protective against cancer (breast, ovarian, cervical)
  • Lowers the incidence of chronic hepatitis
  • Reduces the incidence of osteoporosis
  • Reduces the requirements of insulin for lactating diabetic mothers

Breastfeeding and the environment:

Another important issue related to infant feeding and health is the interaction between infant feeding method and the environment. Breastfeeding is a completely natural, efficient use of resources. In contrast, artificial feeding involves overgrazing of land by cattle; use of chemical fertilizers to grow the soy; use of valuable environmental resources for formula production; packaging and transportation of the product; use of water and fuel for mixing the product and heating it, for sterilizing bottles and nipples; waste disposal of the cans, bottles, accessories, cartons, etc.

Despite this, the media and some environmental groups tend to play up issues of environmental contaminants in mother's milk. In fact, except in situations of toxic spills or occupational exposure to hazardous levels, breastfeeding has caused no ill effects in babies. To the contrary, studies comparing breastfed and bottle-fed babies in the same environment have shown better development and less cancer in the breastfed babies.

 

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