Human Breast milk.
Breast milk is the best food a mother can afford her newborn or infant. It provides all the proteins, sugars, fats, vitamins, minerals and fluids required by the baby.
Breast milk also contains numerous protective factors that boosts the baby’s immune system and protect them against infectious Diseases. So it is a complete meal for the baby.
The development of the immune system significantly improves with the introduction of the components of breast milk. For this reason, mothers are encouraged to exclusively breastfeed their infants for six months and continue breastfeeding up to 2 years and beyond because premature discontinuation of breastfeeding may predispose children to chronic diseases later in life.
What happens during Breastfeeding?
During Breastfeeding, immeasurable natural nutrients are offered to the babies. For example, when a lactating mother develops a cold, she is likely to transmit the cold germs to the baby but the antibodies produced by the body to fight that cold will be passed on to the baby through breast milk. These antibodies will help the infant conquer the cold germs quickly and effectively and possibly avoid developing the cold altogether.
Immunity through the Gut
The short-term benefits of breastfeeding an infant in the early years are numerous. Breastmilk helps to ramp up the neonates digestive system so it can function properly.
This is so because during the early stages of life, the human gut is immature and needs absolute support for effective functioning during the first months of life.
Since babies are born with an immature immune system, they depend on human breastmilk for optimal immune function and development. Breastmilk provides the micro-environment for the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) protection and maturation. The biotics which are available in the human breastmilk enhances the production of microbiomes which are majorly found in the gut.
Nonetheless, breastfeeding is also critical for oral tolerance to the gut bacteria and food antigens. This equally prevent the development of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Further, exclusive breastfeeding in the first three months protects the children against allergic rhinitis.
Why Breastfeed your child?
Breastfeeding promotes optimal growth and development of children in the first two years of life. For this reason, exclusive breastfeeding of infants is recommended for six months.
Children who are exclusively breastfed have a greater chance of survival in the early months than non-breastfed children. Breastfeeding substantially lowers the risk of death of children from acute respiratory infections and diarrhea as well as from other infectious diseases in the first two years of life. It has a potential to prevent 1.4 million deaths in children under five in the developing world.
Recommendations for optimal Breast feeding
Breastfeeding is the best remedy to improving any child’s quality of life both in the short-run and long-run. Mothers should endeavor to breastfeed their children right from birth to at least 2 years of age.
The three recommendations for breast feeding neonates and infants include; initiating breastfeeding within the first hour of birth; exclusively breastfeeding babies for the first six months; and continuing breastfeeding for two years or more.
These measures are important for optimal boost of immunity and for successful health outcomes of children in their early stages of life.
1. Kelly M. Jackson and Andrea M. Nazar, 2006. Breastfeeding, the Immune Response, and Long-term Health. JAOA Review Article.
3. Effect of breastfeeding on infant and child mortality due to infectious diseases in less developed countries: a pooled analysis. WHO Collaborative Study Team on the Role of Breastfeeding on the Prevention of Infant Mortality. Lancet 000; 355: 451–5.
4. Alasil S. and Kutty P, 2015. Breastfeeding as a Tool that Empowers Infant Immunity through Maternal Vaccination. J Vaccines Vaccine 2015, 6:2 DOI: 10.4172/2157-7560.1000271.