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Mother’s milk strengthens baby’s immune system

Mother’s milk strengthens baby’s immune system
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Highlights

World Breast Feeding Week: August 1 - 7 Mother’s milk is 90 per cent water and fulfills the infant’s need for hydration. The rest...

World Breast Feeding Week: August 1 - 7

  • Mother’s milk is 90 per cent water and fulfills the infant’s need for hydration. The rest contains carbohydrates (lactose), proteins, and fats. It is also totally safe against infections

mothers milkMother’s milk is nature’s gift to infants. Someone has rightly called it that breastfeeding nature’s health plan, a gift whose effects last a lifetime.Mother’s milk not only contains a unique combination of nutrients and vitamins essential for a child’s optimum physical and mental growth, but also loaded with antibodies and probiotics that offer protection from several illnesses.

According to the Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) guidelines published by UNICEF, infants should be fed nothing but mother’s milk – not even water, sugar water, or juices for the first six months of life to achieve maximum growth and development. Experts told many of the health problems the grown-up children face such as diarrhea, ear infections, allergies and respiratory infections might be reduced if they are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life.

The first milk is called as Colostrum that occurs during pregnancy and lasts for three or four days after birth. Yellowish and thick milk is considered a high-octane diet for the child, rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. An important role of colostrum is to pass on antibodies from mother to baby to provide passive immunity.

Mother’s milk is 90% water and fulfills the infant’s need for hydration. The rest 10% contains carbohydrates (lactose), proteins, and fats. . It is also totally safe against infections, and is non-allergic, always remains at the right temperature, needs no prior preparation or storage. It is easy to digest and readily available with the mother even when she travels outside home with the child.

Dr. Manoj Malviya, Division Director, NICU at NICE Children Hospital, Hyderabad told “Many studies have shown that mother’s milk strengthens the immune system and breastfed children suffer from fewer infections than those fed other diet. It also offers protection from allergies such as atopic dermatitis, asthma and eczema etc”. He also added “A child’s eyesight and brain develop rapidly over the first year of life. Mother’s milk contains two very crucial nutrients – omega-3 fatty acid DHA and omega-6 fatty acid ARA. Both these are considered major building blocks for the development of brain and eye tissue. He said “a recent study has shown that it leads to extra growth in parts of the brain associated with language, emotional function, and cognition.

Breastfeeding has tremendous psychological benefits too for both mother and child. It helps form a strong emotional bond between them due to the release of oxytocin — the “love hormone. Breastfeeding releases certain hormones in the mother’s body that promote mothering behavior and make her fiercely protective towards the child.

Highlights

  • Infants should be fed only mother’s milk for first six months
  • Mother’s milk strengthens the immune system
  • It offers the perfect balance of nutrients
  • It helps protect the child from several infections and allergies
  • It is the most effective and inexpensive method to keep the child healthy
  • It is extremely important for brain development
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