With recent global outbreaks of diseases such as Ebola and recurring bouts of the measles traveling between continents, it’s fair for every mother to be concerned about the health and well being of her new bub. While many countries allow for infants to receive his or her first round of shots between 2 and 6 months of age, mums are often very concerned about how baby will be able to stave off infection and illness during those first few precious months and years – until they have received their full schedule of vaccinations.
Breastfeeding: An Immediate Immunity Booster
We now know that a mum’s breast milk is the most complete food for a baby, containing all of the sugars, fats and proteins your little one needs to be happy and healthy. But apart from helping your baby grow and develop, breast milk has also been found to contain substances that will strengthen your child’s immune system:
- Immune factors
- White blood cells
Let’s say that you catch a cold while breastfeeding your baby. Being that close in contact with you little one almost undoubtedly means that the germs will be passed on, but because you breastfeeding, you are also passing on the adult-strength antibodies that you body has produced to battle that cold.
This is often why mums of new babies are surprised to find that the wretched cold they came down with only mildly or even never affects her newborn.
Protection Against Many Health Woes
Studies have proven that breastfeeding a baby significantly decreases the chances of your baby suffering from a variety of ailments, from diarrhea and ear infections to respiratory ailments like pneumonia and certain types of spinal meningitis. There is even evidence that exists that breastfeeding exclusively for 4 to 6 months may help keep your baby from suffering from allergies, and can reduce the chances of a baby developing childhood serious illnesses including type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Scientists suspect that the proper support of gut bacteria growth may behind breast-fed babies being more resistant to infection and disease. However, researchers are still trying to pinpoint links between breastfeeding and statistically proven situations such as breastfeeding reducing the occurrence of SIDS or the fact that breast-fed babies are less likely to be obese later in life.
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