Breast feeding protects babies from infections

Infants who are fed only beast milk for the first six months of life are less likely to develop common childhood infections compared to babies who are formula fed or get a mix of formula and breast milk, according to a study published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Greek researchers followed 926 babies for 12 months examining both what they were fed and all infections, including ear, respiratory and urinary tract infections as well as thrush and others infections. The exclusively breast fed babies were 42 percent less likely to develop respiratory infections, 63 percent less likely to develop ear infections, and 86 percent less likely to develop thrush – a fungal infection in the mouth – after adjusting for other factors such as exposure to tobacco smoke, season of birth, and parental age.

The researchers concluded that their data “suggest that exclusive breastfeeding contributes to protection against common infections during infancy… and lessens the frequency and severity of infectious episodes” when they do occur.

Moreover, they reported that partial breastfeeding did not have a similar protective effect.

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