The Benefits of Breastfeeding
Currently, only 24.6% of U.S. mothers initiate breastfeeding before formula feeding, CDC statistics show. One of the Healthy People 2020 Initiatives is increasing this percentage to around 80%. You can help by educating patients about the benefits of breastfeeding.
Exclusive breastfeeding for at least 3 months reduced the incidence of asthma, atopic dermatitis and eczema 42% among infants with a family history and 27% among low-risk infants, researchers have found.
Any breastfeeding reduces otitis media (OM) incidence by 23% compared with exclusive commercial infant formula feeding, and exclusive breastfeeding for more than 3 months reduces OM risk by 50%.
Respiratory tract infections
Exclusive breastfeeding for more than 4 months reduced the risk for hospitalization due to lower respiratory tract infections 72% in the first year of life.
Diabetes type 1 & 2
Children who are exclusively breastfed for at least 3 months have up to a 30% reduction in type 1 diabetes and 40% reduction in type 2 diabetes incidence.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
Results of a meta-analysis reveal that breastfeeding is associated with a 36% reduction in the risk of SIDS. More than 900 infant lives could be saved each year in the United States if 90% of mothers exclusively breastfed for 6 months, researchers project.
Childhood leukemia and lymphoma
Breastfeeding for at least 6 months has been associated with a 20% decrease in risk of childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia and a 15% decrease in the risk of acute myeloid leukemia.
The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends that infants be breastfeed exclusively for about the first 6 months of life, due to the myriad health and economic benefits for both mother and child. Breastfeeding should be continued as complementary foods are introduced for 1 year or longer, as mutually desired by mother and infant, the AAP states.
Primary care clinicians play a crucial role as breastfeeding advocates. Learn more about the health benefits of breastfeeding in this slideshow.