Breast milk is often called liquid gold. From improving immunity to making babies smarter, it seems like there’s nothing breast milk cannot do. Recent research and surveys show that the benefits of breastfeeding your baby extend well into your child’s adulthood: people who received breast milk as their primary source of nutrition during infancy tend to develop fewer illnesses and lead a better quality of life overall.
Let us look at the top seven LONG-TERM benefits of breastfeeding:
- Prevention of Crohn’s Disease: Irritable bowel diseases like Crohn’s Disease can cause severe digestive tract inflammation and weight loss, often proving to be a cause of mortality. There is a reason to believe that breastfeeding can help prevent Crohn’s Disease.
- Prevention of Obesity: Today, obesity is almost an epidemic. Infants who receive too much protein in early life tend to be obese later. However, breastfed children ingest much less protein, which could be why they don’t gain excess weight afterward.
- Controlling Blood Pressure: Formula milk contains more sodium than breast milk. As a result, infants may have trouble regulating sodium in early life, a pattern that repeats later as well. Being breastfed helps set up the sodium regulation mechanism for greater success through adulthood.
- Cholesterol Regulation: Breast milk contains high levels of cholesterol. As a result, the feedback mechanism that prompts our body to generate cholesterol does not need to kick in. This benefit continues well into adulthood, resulting in lower cholesterol and lower risk of heart disease.
- Prevention of Diabetes: While the exact reason is not known, the insulin levels are higher in infants fed with formula. More insulin in the bloodstream causes the pancreas to produce less of it, leading to diabetes later in life.
- Higher IQ: Breast milk contains DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an essential nutrient for cord and retinal development. Infant brain development happens at a phenomenal rate. When supported with essential nutrients, it thrives, leading to a better performance on intelligence tests.
- Improved Memory: Perhaps as a logical consequence of the earlier effect, middle-aged individuals who got breast milk as infants have better memory and retention.
If you have had to stop breastfeeding due to any reason, don’t worry! It is possible to begin breast feeding again through a process called re-lactation. Speak to your lactation consultant for more details.
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- Gilles RG Monif, “The Prevention of Crohn’s Disease by Breastfeeding,” Adv Res Gastroentero Hepatol, Vol 8 Issue 3, December 2017.
- Long-term effects of breastfeeding, World Health Organization.