News Stories

Breast Feeding Saves Lives?And Not Just Babies' Lives

We can save the lives of millions of infants every year in the third world. In the West, we can save the lives of their mothers as well?and also the lives of their children, especially their sons, when they grow to maturity. What is the magic that can achieve all these miracles? Breast feeding.

Andy McSmith writes in the Independent that studies have shown that, in poor countries, four million babies die every year before they?re one month old. One quarter of them (a million babies every year), could be saved if they were breastfed from the first hour of their life.

But a major problem with breast-feeding in Africa is mothers with HIV. The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that mothers can pass the virus to their infants through their milk.

It's important to learn what you should eat BEFORE the baby is born as well. Doctors used to recommend the same healthy foods and vitamins to all pregnant mothers, but that will soon change. Expectant mothers may someday get a personalized menu of foods to eat during pregnancy to go along with their DNA.

Researcher Jonathan D. Gitlin says, "We already know that nutrition is a critical issue in birth defects and that folic acid is an essential supplement in some women for the prevention of spina bifida in the developing fetus. The ultimate goal of this research is to bring the power of [DNA-based] medicine to every woman. The knowledge of genetic variations serves as a unique, individual guide for providing the essential nutritional intake that will ensure a normal, healthy infant."

Breast feeding is important in the Third World because it saves lives. It's important in the West because it may reduce our babies' risk of becoming obese children and fat adults, which saves lives in another way. Researcher Elizabeth Mayer-Davis found that breast feeding helps reduce our children's chances of gaining too much weight, even when they've inherited the ?diabetes gene from us.

Wish you could have twins and get your family all at once? The solution: Be tall. An obstetrician who specializes in multiple-birth pregnancies has confirmed that taller women are more likely to have twins, because their bodies contain more of an insulin-like growth factor (IGF), which has been positively linked to both height and twinning. In the previous study in his series on the mechanisms of twinning, Dr. Gary Steinman has also found that women who consume animal products, specifically dairy, are five times more likely to have twins, because cows, like humans, produce IGF in response to growth hormone and release it into the blood, and the IGF makes its way into their milk.

So drink plenty of cow's milk when you're pregnant?just don't feed it to your baby, no matter what big business tries to tell you.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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