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Breast Milk Is Best
“In my practice, I encourage new moms to consider breastfeeding their new baby because of its many benefits. Breastfeeding helps support optimal growth and development for an infant’s first six months of life and provides ongoing protection against many diseases,” says Teresa Romero, MD, a board-certified pediatrician at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.
Human milk contains just the right amounts of fatty acids, lactose, water, and amino acids for human digestion, brain development, and growth. Even though infant formula comes a close second to breast milk, the chemical make-up of breast milk is unmatched.
“A mother produces antibodies to diseases that are present in her environment, making her milk custom-tailored to fight some of the diseases her baby is exposed to as well. Studies have shown that breastfed babies may have fewer illnesses because human milk transfers the mother’s antibodies directly to her baby,” notes Dr. Romero.
About 80% of the cells in breast milk kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Breastfed babies are generally better protected from germs and illnesses like the flu, pneumonia, bronchitis, and ear infections.
“Breastfed babies can still get sick,” adds Dr. Romero. “Fortunately, the illness may be relatively less severe and lengthy than if the baby wasn’t receiving breast milk. While a child’s immune system is developing, he may be better protected by being breastfed. His own immune system may also develop more rapidly than a baby who is fed formula.”