BY CHIOMA OBINNA
DO you know that a successful exclusive breastfeeding of babies for the first six months of life and 14 months continuous feeding could attract many benefits to both the baby and the mother? Experts say the fact that breastfeeding is the most cost effective source of reducing infant mortality and promoting a healthy nation is no longer news but the news is that there is a connection between breastfeeding and cognitive development.
A recent study of more than 17,000 infants followed from birth to 6 1/2 years, it was found that from IQ scores and other intelligence tests that prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding significantly improves cognitive development.
Preterm infants with extremely low birth weight who received breast milk shortly after birth improved their mental development scores at 18 months when compared with preterm infants who weren’t given breast milk.
In a later study, researchers found that the higher scores held at 30 months, and that the babies who received breast milk were also less likely to be hospitalized again because of respiratory infections.
Experts say that the emotional bonding that takes place during breastfeeding probably contributes to some of the brainpower benefits, but that the fatty acids in breast milk may play the biggest role.
According to the American Academy of Peadiatrics, breastfeeding may protect a child from obesity. They recommends breastfeeding as a way to help reduce the child’s risk of becoming overweight or obese. The strongest effect is in children who were exclusively breastfed, and the longer the baby was breastfed the stronger the link.
Experts think breastfeeding may affect later weight gain for several reasons: Breastfed babies are better at eating until their hunger is satisfied, leading to healthier eating patterns as they grow. Breast milk contains less insulin than formula. (Insulin stimulates the creation of fat.)