Submitted to: Proceedings World Congress of Perinatal Medicine
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 18, 1999
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Human milk is a complex mixture of factors with roles in nutrition, gastrointestinal function, and host defense. The components are in a dynamic state, occasionally affected by maternal diet and well-being, and appear to be uniquely suited to the human infant; it is "species specific." A large quantity of data demonstrate the marked protective effects of breastfeeding for infants in both developing countries. These effects result in lower rates of acute illnesses, such as otitis media, gastroenteritis, respiratory illnesses, and urinary tract infection. Evidence is accumulating to suggest a protective effect of breastfeeding on chronic diseases in children, such as diabetes, Crohn's Disease, and lymphoma. The mother also receives benefits in terms of postpartum body weight loss, contraception, and may have a reduced incidence of premenopausal breast cancer and fewer fractures from osteoporosis. Thus, the benefits of breastfeeding become a potent force in reducing the cost o health care in a national economy.