Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Medical benefits of breastfeeding

Posted on: June 7, 2009

I recently attended a professional development course where Dr Anthony Williams, Reader in Child Nutrition and Consultant in neonatal Paediatrics, St George’s Hospital, University of London spoke about the medical benefits of breastfeeding.

We all know “Breast is best” but the facts make interesting reading:

  • The risk of necrotizing entocolitis (a medical condition primarily seen in premature babies, where portions of the bowel undergo necrosis or tissue death) is five times more likely in babies fed formula milk.
  • Breastfed babies also have less diarrhoea and lower respiratory tract infection and have statistically significantly lower hospital admission rates.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for six months and this is know to:
  • Reduced gastroenteritis/eczema
  • 50% reduction ottis media (middle ear infections)
  • 20% reduction in allergies (if there is a family history of allergies this reduction is more like 40%)
  • 50% reduction SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
  • Pre-term infants – outcomes appear to be improved if given breastmilk
  • Decreased risk obesity

Maternal effects:

  • 24% reduction in premenopausal breast cancer
  • Small reduction in postmenopausal breast cancer
  • Reduction in some types ovarian cancer
  • Reduced cardiovascular risk
  • Small reduction in: BP/serum cholesterol/BMI/Impaired glucose tolerance
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