Monday, March 27, 2006

Breastfeeding Benefits Are Different Than Assumed

Via Slate:
Like almost all new parents, when my wife and I were in the first flush of parenthood four decades ago, we were possessed to do the best we could for our babies. We were also skeptical of conventional wisdom. In those days, that combination meant we would opt for breast-feeding. It's a little shocking to say this now, but at that time almost no one chose to breast-feed. Our pediatrician gently tolerated our eccentricity but told us, apologetically, that he couldn't help—he knew nothing about it. Fortunately, both grandmas were knowledgeable and supportive and things worked out...

When you ask a bunch of doctors about how breast-feeding prevents infection, they get it wrong—I know they do, because I've asked the question. Doctors tell you that colostrum (produced in the first three days or so after a baby is born) and breast milk are full of maternal antibodies. Next, doctors say that these maternal antibodies are absorbed into the infant's blood circulation and thus serve to protect infants from disease.
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