Breastfeeding Takes Center Stage

Breastfeeding Takes Center Stage

Ann Bailey

Okay…  just gotta ask.  What are your thoughts on the Time Magazine cover:  “Are You Mom Enough?”  This has certainly brought front and center (so to speak) the topic of breastfeeding.

United Families International has long been a proponent of women breastfeeding and we have compiled studies that show its importance to children.  But this cover story raises many questions and controversies – and certainly Time magazine is very happy to have their magazine getting so much attention.

Here are some questions:

  • Is this helpful or harmful to the cause of breastfeeding?
  • Is this obscene and sensationalistic?
  • Does this give a helpful boost to the cause of motherhood in general?
  • Is this harmful to the young boy who has his face and name (his mother’s name is prominently featured) plastered all over the print world and the internet?

 

Here is a list of articles giving a range of opinions:

Time magazine cover — forget the breast, what about the boy?

Time magazine breastfeeding cover: A shocking ‘stroke of genius’

Time Magazine’s cover mom defends breastfeeding picture

Behind the Cover: Are You Mom Enough?

Benefits of Breastfeeding

Fewer Infections and better health

Exclusive breastfeeding for four or more months appeared to diminish the risk of respiratory hospitalization in infancy to one-third or less the risk observed for formula-fed infants.  V. R. Bachrach, E. Schwartz, and L.R. Bachrach, “Breastfeeding and the Risk of Hospitalization for Respiratory Disease:  A Meta-Analysis,” Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 157, 3 (2003):  237-243.

Breastfeeding for at least four months confers a statistically significant “protective effect” against antibiotic treatments at 1.5 years and at 2.5 years.  “[T]he more-at-risk children could be protected by breast-feeding and by being taken care of in a familial setting, especially before 2.5 years of age.” Lise Dubois and Manon Girard, “Breast-feeding, day-care attendance and the frequency of antibiotic treatments from 1.5 to 5 years: a population-based longitudinal study in Canada,” Social Science & Medicine 60 (2005): 2035-2044.

Breastfeeding appears to reduce symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections in premature infants up to seven months after release from hospital in a 2002 study of 39 infants.   Bier Blaymore, et al., “Human milk reduces outpatient upper respiratory symptoms in premature infants during their first year of life”. J Perinatol 22, 5 (2002): 354–359.

A case-control study found that breastfeeding reduced the risk of acquiring urinary tract infections in infants up to seven months of age, with the protection strongest immediately after birth.  S. Marild, et al.,”Protective effect of breastfeeding against urinary tract infection”. Acta Paediatr. 93, 2 (2004): 164–168.

The 2007 review for AHRQ found that breastfeeding reduced the risk of acute otitis media, non-specific gastroenteritis, and severe lower respiratory tract infection.  S. Ip, et al., “Breastfeeding and maternal and infant health outcomes in developed countries” Evidence Report Technological Assessment 153 (2007): 1–186.

A study conducted at a University in Germany found that breastfeeding halved the risk of sudden infant death syndrome in children up to the age of 1.  M.M. Vennemann, et al., “Does breastfeeding reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome?”  Pediatrics 123, 3 (2009):  e406-410.

Infants exclusively breastfed have less chance of developing diabetes mellitus type 1 than peers with a shorter duration of breastfeeding and an earlier exposure to cow milk and solid foods.   F. Perez-Bravo, et al., “Genetic predisposition and environmental factors leading to the development of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in Chilean children,” Journal of Molecular Medicine 74, 2 (1996): 105–109.

In children who are at risk for developing allergic disease, atopic syndrome can be prevented or delayed through exclusive breastfeeding for four months, though these benefits may not be present after four months of age.  However, the key factor could be the age at which non-breastmilk is introduced rather than duration of breastfeeding. F. R. Greer, et al.,”Effects of early nutritional interventions on the development of atopic disease in infants and children: the role of maternal dietary restriction, breastfeeding, timing of introduction of complementary foods, and hydrolyzed formulas,” Pediatrics (journal) 121, 1 (2008): 183–191.

Atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema, can be reduced through exclusive breastfeeding beyond 12 weeks in individuals with a family history of atopy, but when breastfeeding beyond 12 weeks is combined with other foods incidents of eczema rise irrespective of family history.  H. R. Pratt, “Breastfeeding and eczema,” Early Human Development 9, 3(1984): 283–290.

Breastfeeding appears to reduce the risk of extreme obesity in children aged 39 to 42 months.  J. Armstrong and J. J. Reilly, “Breastfeeding and lowering the risk of childhood obesity,” The Lancet  359, 9322 (2002): 2003–2004.

A 2011 study showed that among children who were never breast-fed — or who stopped breast-feeding before the age of 4 months — introducing solid foods before 4 months of age was linked to a sixfold increase in the risk of obesity.  The timing of solid foods didn’t increase the odds of becoming obese in youngsters who were breast-fed. Susanna Y. Huh, et al., “Timing of Solid Food Introduction and Risk of Obesity in Preschool-Aged Children,” Pediatrics 127, 3 (2011):  e544-e551.

Higher Intelligence

**There are a few studies that have found no connection between breastfeeding and higher intelligence in later life, but there is a more robust amount of research showing that there is a connection.

 In tests of low birth weight children at age seven or eight, it was found that those who had been breastfed for more than eight months had verbal IQ scores six points higher than comparable children breastfed for less time.  L. J. Horwood, et al., “Breast milk feeding and cognitive ability at 7-8 years,” Archives Dis. Child. Fetal Neonatal Ed. 84, 1 (2001): F23–27.

A study using data on 2,734 sibling pairs from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health “provide[d] persuasive evidence of a causal connection between breastfeeding and intelligence.” The same data “also suggests that nonexperimental studies of breastfeeding overstate some of [breastfeeding’s] other long-term benefits, even if controls are included for race, ethnicity, income, and education.”   E. Evenhouse and S. Reilly, “Improved estimates of the benefits of breastfeeding using sibling comparisons to reduce selection bias,” Health Services Research 40, 6 Pt 1(2005): 1781–1802.

A review of the literature conducted for the World Health Organization showed that “breastfeeding is associated with increased cognitive development in childhood.” The review also states that “The issue remains of whether the association is related to the properties of breastmilk itself, or whether breastfeeding enhances the bonding between mother and child, and thus contributes to intellectual development.”   B. L. Horta, et al., Evidence on the long-term effects of breastfeeding: systematic reviews and meta-analyses. (2007) Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.

The country of Belarus carried out the largest randomized trial ever conducted in the area of human lactation.  Of 13,889 infants born at these hospitals and polyclinics and followed up in 2002-2005, those who had been born in hospitals and polyclinics receiving breastfeeding promotion had IQs that were 2.9-7.5 points higher.  The authors concluded that the data “provide strong evidence that prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding improves children’s cognitive development.”  M.S. Kramer, et al., “Breastfeeding and child cognitive development: new evidence from a large randomized trial,” Archives of  General Psychiatry  65, 5 (2008): 578–584.

Benefits for Mother

 During breastfeeding beneficial hormones are released into the mother’s bodyand the maternal bond can be strengthened. “Benefits of Breastfeeding,” (2009) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Lactation that lasts for at least 24 months is associated with a 23% lower risk of coronary heart disease.  A. M. Stuebe, et al., “Duration of lactation and incidence of myocardial infarction in middle to late adulthood,” American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology 200, 9 (2009): 138.e1–8.

 According to a study out of Sweden, women who breast fed for a longer duration have a lower risk for contracting rheumatoid arthritis than women who breast fed for a shorter duration or who had never breast fed.  M. Pikwer, U. Bergstrom, J.A. Nilsson, et al., “Breast feeding, but not use of oral contraceptives, is associated with a reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis,” Annals of Rheumatic Disease 68, 4 (2009): 526–530.

 Breastfeeding diabetic mothers require less insulin.  W. Rayburn, et al., “Changes in insulin therapy during pregnancy”. American Journal of Perinatology 2, 4 (1985): 271–275

 Reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.  Kavitha T. Ram, et al., “Duration of lactation is associated with lower prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in midlife—SWAN, the study of women’s health across the nation,” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 198, 3 (2008): 268.2e1-268.e6.   E. P. Gunderson, et al., “Duration of Lactation and Incidence of the Metabolic Syndrome in Women of Reproductive Age According to Gestational Diabetes Mellitus Status: A 20-Year Prospective Study in CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults),” Diabetes 59, 2 (2010): 495-504.

Women who breastfeed enjoy less risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer.   L. M. Gartner et al., “Breastfeeding and the use of human milk [policy statement],” Pediatrics 115, 2 (2005): 496–506.   S. Ip, et al., “Breastfeeding and maternal and infant health outcomes in developed countries” Evidence Report Technological Assessment 153 (2007): 1–186. K. Rosenblatt and D. Thomas, “Prolonged lactation and endometrial cancer. WHO Collaborative Study of Neoplasia and Steroid Contraceptives,” International Journal of  Epidemiology 24, 3 (1995): 499–503.   P. Newcomb and A. Trentham-Dietz, “Breast feeding practices in relation to endometrial cancer risk, USA,Cancer Causes Control 11, 7 (2000): 663–667.

Breastfeeding reduces the risk of post-partum bleeding.  S. Chua, et al., “Influence of breastfeeding and nipple stimulation on postpartum uterine activity,” BJOG:  Int’l Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology 101, 9 (1994): 804–805.

 Although 65 percent of infants are breastfed at some time (up from 54 percent over the last decade) there is a sharp decline in any breastfeeding … Expandwhen infants are between two and three months old, often as a consequence of mothers’ return to work or school, but also because of other cultural constraints and beliefs.  Ruowei Li, “Prevalence of Breasfeeding the U.S.:  The 2001 Immunization Survey, Pediatrics 111, 5 (2003):  1198-1201.

 

1Comment
  • Meagan
    Posted at 19:30h, 14 May Reply

    In one of the links you provided the mother says that “that’s not how we breastfeed at home” which tells me that TIME made them pose that way for shock value and to partially mock it–I feel bad for them. I don’t have a problem with women having lengthy breastfeeding if they feel it will help their toddler or preschooler’s inadequate diet, but they should know that it might make it harder to get pregnant.

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