Breast Milk is the Choice of Food in Infancy, Even May Provide A Long-Term Protection of Type 2 Diabetes
Breast milk is the ideal form of nutrition for newborns, but for mothers who are unable to breastfeed or who decide not to, infant formula is a good alternative. If you feed your baby with a commercially prepared formula, be assured that your baby's nutritional needs will be met. And you'll still bond with your baby just fine. After all, whether with breast milk or formula, feeding is an important time of connection between mother and baby.
The decision to breastfeed or formula feed your baby is a very personal one. But here are some points you may want to consider as you decide which is best for you and your new addition.
Nursing can be a wonderful experience for both mother and baby. It provides ideal nourishment and a special bonding experience that many nursing mothers cherish. Below are some of the many benefits of breastfeeding.
Breast milk also naturally contains all the vitamins and minerals that a newborn requires. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates formula companies to ensure that they provide all the known necessary nutrients in their formulas.
Breastfeeding in infancy appears to be associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes later in life, according to a quantitative analysis of published evidence conducted by investigators in the UK.
"Whether this effect is attributed to a difference in the content of breast milk compared to formula milk, or whether the family environment and nurture of infants breast fed differs from those formula fed remains to be established," Dr. Christopher G. Owen who led the study told Reuters Health.
In either case, breast milk is "the food of choice in infancy, based on numerous short- and long-term health benefits," added Owen, of St. George's, University of London.
Because evidence from individual studies that examined the relationship between breastfeeding and the risk of type 2 diabetes has been inconsistent, Owen's team conducted a systematic review and pooled analysis of relevant studies published in the medical literature on the topic.
In seven studies involving 76,744 subjects, those who were breastfed as infants had a 39-percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes in adulthood. The findings of these seven studies were "broadly consistent, despite widely differing nature of the populations," the authors note in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
In six studies involving 4,800 subjects, levels of insulin -- the body's key blood sugar-regulating hormone -- were marginally lower in breastfed non-diabetic children and adults compared with formula-fed non-diabetic children and adults.
In these studies, fasting blood sugar concentrations were no different in breastfed and formula fed children and adults. However, in infancy, breastfeeding was consistently related to lower concentrations of blood sugar and insulin than was formula feeding. Chronically high levels of insulin raise the risk of heart disease and exacerbate the effect of diabetes.
"On the basis of the published evidence, breastfeeding may provide a degree of long-term protection against the development of type 2 diabetes, which could be of public health importance," Owen and colleagues conclude.