Give your baby God’s formula

Give your baby God’s formula
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Give Your Baby God’s Formula. Breastfed children are always at an advantage.

Breastfed children are always at an advantage

One of the global reform campaigns of this period is the effort to persuade women to breastfeed their babies. There is an active global campaign to dissuade mothers in developing countries from turning to bottled formula. A difficulty in making the case, especially in poorer nations, is that bottle feeding seems modern, chic and fashionable.

It is a bit odd to think of the natural process of feeding newborns as a matter of fashion.

Although mothers nursing their infants seem to meet a basic biological drive, the history of breastfeeding in our state shows what is ‘natural’ is very much shaped by cultural influences. Influences can wax and wane, and so embracing the ‘natural’ too, can cycle. Breastfeeding as the ideal way for mothers to feed children has gone in and out of fashion.

A study, published in the journal ‘Social Science & Medicine’, looked at siblings who were fed differently during infancy. When children from different families were compared, the kids who were breastfed did better on 11 measures than kids who were not breastfed. It showed that mothers who breastfed their kids were disproportionately advantaged—they tend to be wealthier and better educated.

When children fed differently within the same family were compared—those discordant sibling pairs—there was no significant difference in any of the measures, except for asthma. Children who were breastfed were at a higher risk for asthma than children who consumed formula.

According to a long-term study, breastfeeding improves a child’s chance of climbing up the social ladder and becoming a successful adult.

The analysis of more than 34,000 people born in the 1970s and 1980s found that those who had been breastfed as a baby were 24 per cent more likely to be upwardly mobile and 20 per cent less likely to drop down the social ladder. The health benefits of breastfeeding are well known, but the study is among the first to identify tangible benefits later in life. Two groups of people – born in 1978 and 1988 – were categorised by the job their father did when they were 10 or 11, and the job they themselves had when they were 33 or 34. Social class was divided into four categories based on job type – from unskilled and semi-skilled manual work to professional or managerial work.

The authors of the study, published in the medical journal ‘Archives of Disease in Childhood’ said that it provided evidence of long-term health, developmental and behavioural advantages to children, which crucially persist into adulthood. Breastfeeding enhances brain development, which boosts intellect, which in turn increases upward social mobility.

Breast milk protects children from infections and breastfed babies are less likely to become obese or develop eczema. The report’s authors said that breastfeeding also helped to generate a strong emotional bond between mother and baby.

“Perhaps, the combination of physical contact and the most appropriate nutrients required for growth and brain development is implicated in the better neurocognitive adult outcomes of breastfed infants,” they added.

In the current economic climate, more women are going back to work sooner, and therefore choosing not to breastfeed. Employers should offer new mothers more support at work, such as crèches at the office, where babies can be breastfed.

A 2008 Bureau of Labour Statistics study shows that 60 per cent of new mothers return to work within the first nine months. Still, it’s no accident that 30 per cent of new mothers give up breastfeeding less than seven weeks after returning to work, according to a 2007 survey conducted by the National Women’s Health Resource Center.

Breast milk is all a baby needs. Just food for thought, would you want to give your baby man’s formula or God’s formula?

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