Benefits of breast milk

The benefits of breastfeeding extend well beyond basic nutrition. Clinical dietician Nathalie Mat and nutritional therapist Marié Petrelis explain why breast milk is perfect for your baby.

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New research has shown that breastfeeding can enhance a child’s IQ. According to a study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, verbal scores were higher at age 3 and IQ scores at age 7 if a child had breastfed for the first year.

But enhanced language skills and higher intelligence scores aren’t the only benefits of breast milk:

  • Breast milk is designed for the exact purpose of nourishing a human baby. It also adapts to suit the changing needs of a growing baby.
  • The vitamins and minerals in breast milk have a higher bioavailability, which means they are more easily absorbed by your baby than the same element in substitute milk.
  • Breast milk is also very beneficial for your baby’s immune system. A mom’s body contains antibodies developed in response to antigens she’s encountered. While pregnant, she shared these with her baby, but this passive immunity fades within a few weeks after birth. Breastfeeding allows the mother to offer protection while her baby’s immune system matures.
  • It’s great for premature babies. Premature babies have an under-developed gut which puts them at risk for necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), an infection of the intestine which can have long-term consequences. The antibodies found in breast milk provide an intestinal lining that reduces the risk of NEC and is the reason why breastfeeding for premature babies are encouraged.

Click here to read more on expressing and storing breast milk.

 

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