Breastfeeding: good for baby's immunity

For further information, contact Melissa Maimann at Essential Birth Consulting. Excerpted from "C-sections, Breastfeeding and Bugs for Your Baby: What the doctor probably won't tell you," Midwifery Today, Issue 79

Breastfeeding newborns, like the evolutionary process of vaginal birth, is about bacteria. The breast milk of a human mother, like other mammalian mothers, is species-specific, having been adapted over eons to deliver specific and sufficient nutrition to guarantee proper growth, health, and immunity development. Researchers have long known that breastfed babies possess an intestinal flora that is measurably different than formula-fed infants. Of specific interest is a group of bacteria known as bifidobacterium. ... These are probiotics.

Studies have shown that at one month of age, both breastfed and formula-fed infants possess bifidobacterium, but population densities in bottle-fed infants is one-tenth that of breastfed infants. The presence of a healthy and robust population of bifidobacterium throughout the first year or two of life contributes significantly to the child's resistance to infection and overall development of defense systems—not to mention the physical development of the intestinal system in general. Aside from the substances secreted by these specific bacteria that are known to inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria, they also work to make the intestinal environment of the infant more acidic, creating an additional barrier against invading pathogens. In short, breastfed babies are sick less, are less fussy, have fewer and shorter duration of bouts of diarrhea, and have more frequent—and softer—bowel movements.

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448