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Can breastfeeding really cure all?

(258 Posts)
shuffle Sat 13-Sep-08 22:24:51

I am confused by some of the claims made about the benefits of breastfeeding. (Especially the link made to curing cancer on recent program) A friend of mine exclusively breastfed until 6 months and her daughter has all sorts of awful allergies and excema, I also breastfed and my baby caught the same bugs as everyone else. Yes its best for mother and baby, yes its wonderful but I think that some of the advice and information given about the supposed benefits can be exaggerated.

TinkerBellesMum Sat 13-Sep-08 22:43:09

The longer you nurse for the more the benefits. We're not meant as a race to be weaning at six months, it's far more natural to be weaning between 2 and 7 years. Unfortunately that part of it is played down quite a bit. Also you've got to remember that the links are over the population, but per child and it lessens the impact of different things, so your friends LO could have far worse problems with her allergies and eczema if she hadn't been breastfed. Another factor into it is weaning to solids.

This is a chart I found today that shows the ages and benefits of breastfeeding:

If you breastfeed for a few days, your baby will have received your colostrum or early milk. Packed with optimal nutrition and antibodies, it helps get your baby's digestive system going and give him his first - and easiest - immunization.

If you breastfeed for four to six weeks, you will have eased him through the most critical part of his infancy. Breastfed newborns are much less likely to get sick or be hospitalized and have fewer digestive problems than artificially fed babies.

If you breastfeed for three or four months her digestive system will have matured a great deal and she will be much better able to tolerate the foreign substances in artificial baby milk.

If you breastfeed for six months, she will be much less likely to suffer an allergic reaction to artificial baby milk or other foods. A new study indicates that nursing for more than six months may greatly reduce the risk of childhood cancers as well.

If you breastfeed your baby for nine months, you will have seen him through the fastest and most important development of his life on the most valuable of all foods - your milk.

If you breastfeed your baby for a year you can avoid the expense of artificial baby milk. Many health benefits during this year of nursing will last her whole life. She will have a stronger immune system, less chance of childhood and adolescent obesity and will be much less likely to need orthodontia or speech therapy.

If you breastfeed your baby for eighteen months, you will have continued to provide the highest quality nutrition and superb protection against illness at a time when illness is common in other babies. The US Surgeon General says "It is the lucky baby that nurses to age two".

If you breastfeed your baby until he is ready to wean, you can feel confident you have met your baby's physical an emotional needs in the most natural, healthiest way possible. In cultures where there is no pressure to wean, children tend to nurse for at least two years. Mothers who have nursed for two or more years have a lower risk of developing breast cancer.

Don't worry that your child will nurse forever. All children wean eventually no matter what you do and there are more nursing toddlers around than you might guess.

LaVieEnRose Sat 13-Sep-08 22:55:49

Don't worry about it; your baby will probably only fully Bf or FF for 6 months. After that you should introduce solids anyway . It really isn't as important as some people make out.

BF and FF babies basically turn out the same so they can trot out as much "evidence" as they like it doesn't matter. The solids you feed them, yes that matters.

they meaning the BF officiandos who believe their way is the only way. Not necessarily on this forum!

likessleep Sat 13-Sep-08 23:03:32

All I know is that I had a horrid cold a fortnight ago and 10 month old DS didn't catch it (only one not to). It seemed so odd that he didn't catch it, despite our close proximity.
I put it down to b'feeding.

TheNinkynork Sat 13-Sep-08 23:11:35

My milk always cleared up my non-BF nephew's weepy eyes.

DH has skin allergies and now that DS is taking more solids and bottles he has developed horrid rashes sad

I haven't been ill for the past 16 months. DS has, but when he's been like that, (following jabs or teething) and has refused all food and liquids other than BM for DAYS, I've been bloody glad we're still going.

All anecdotal I know but then I am a bit of an officiando wink

savetheplanetdontiron Sat 13-Sep-08 23:18:26

oh god not another rancid thread please. am hiding this one now. the last one depressed me sad

chipmonkey Sat 13-Sep-08 23:43:40

Savetheplanetdontiron, what thread? Why did it make you feel so bad?sad

shuffle, breastmilk is wonderful stuff. It is antibacterial, antiviral and all the rest. Does it cure all? Of course not! There was no Cow and Gate in the time of the Bubonic Plague, was there?

The point is that breast milk is ideal; the use of formula carries certain risks.

My own experience of bfing is that ds1 and ds2 were bf till 12 months, ds3 till 2.8
Ds3, unlike his older brothers did not get glue ear between the age of 1 and 2 and despite attending a nursery was never, ever sick. With ds1 and ds2 at the same age, I was always at the GP.

I intend to bf ds4 for at least 2 years, maybe more but no it is not a cure-all, just the physiological norm for mammals and the optimal way to feed a baby.

tiktok Sun 14-Sep-08 00:37:48

LaVie - please share the evidence you have that breastfed and formula fed babies basically turn out the same (and explain what you mean by basically!), and why the foods the baby has after six months are more important.

Breastfeeding and formula feeding mothers don't even turn out 'basically' the same, if you compare risks of certain serious conditions.

I'd be surprised if you find evidence of 'basically' no difference, if we are talking risks of infection, hospitalisation, obesity, blood fact, I know you won;t because the evidence is all the other way.

Onestonetogo Sun 14-Sep-08 01:04:21

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cyberseraphim Sun 14-Sep-08 07:06:26

Another study showed that IQs are increasing at 3 points a decade in western countries, it makes you wonder where all the people who watch X factor/Big Brother come from...It is very uncertain what an IQ is as is how to 'measure' it.

baltimore97 Sun 14-Sep-08 09:32:27

I think I read that a recent study showed that breastfeeding made no difference to IQ. The previous studies were all flawed as they failed to take into account the IQ of the parents. Most people who breastfeed are educated middle-class types - who often have a higher IQ to start with, thus their children will too, regardless of whether they are breastfed.

MrsJamin Sun 14-Sep-08 09:52:40

Of course they're going to factor out all the other variables before making claims about IQ and breastmilk - the researchers aren't stupid, they know the choice to breastfeed is heavily weighted towards different types of people. There was still a difference of IQ once you compare like people with like people.

Oh and I watch Big Brother - I certainly haven't got a low IQ (to be quite honest!).

tiktok Sun 14-Sep-08 10:10:57

baltimore - any comparative study of IQ in a population has to control for social, economic and parental influences.

There are several studies of infant feeding and IQ which do this, and find that formula fed babies have slightly lower IQs.

This shouldn't be surprising, given how we know the brain develops.

Maria2007 Sun 14-Sep-08 10:34:26


I'm exclusively bf my little boy (he's 6 weeks) & I'm happy so far with how it's going; it just feels like the right choice for us, & luckily it has been easy so far. I plan to continue for as long as it feels right for me & my baby, so I don't have a 'set end date'.

However, I get very tired by the fanaticism around breastfeeding, which I know for a fact (as we all do) makes women who cannot breastfeed feel very very bad. I do agree that there are nutritional & health benefits to breastfed babies. There are also nutirional benefits to eating 5 fruit & veg a day, or eating organic food... but we don't go around being so fanatical against those who don't!

Additionally, I very much doubt any benefits that have to do with IQ or 'bonding'. Even the concepts of IQ & bonding are very much criticized within psychology, & personally I just don't buy it that something as complex as a child's intelligence or the child's emotional relationship to the parents (which some people call 'bonding') has to do with the kind of milk the baby gets. Being a psychologist myself, I also very much doubt the research that produces these results, while at the same time I agree with nutritional or health issues that make breast milk preferable. I do agree, from my experience at the moment with my baby who is breastfeeding, that the act of breastfeeding is more than the milk... my son finds great comfort & soothing in my breasts. However, my friends who bottle feed find other creative ways to soothe their babies, & I don't see why one method of soothing/comfort is inherently better for the baby.

The lower risk of allergies & other health risks does not, I think, justify the harshness that many people show towards those who cannot / won't breastfeed. My sister had 2 premature babies & could not breastfeed them, & was made to feel badly about this... they turned out very well, by the way. I myself wasn't breastfed, as so many other people weren't... and it's not as if anyone can point us out in the population & say there's a noticeable difference. Perhaps there are some differences, I I know there are, but as I said at the beginning, there are differences in all sorts of health/nutrition choices, it's not as if breastfeeding is the one & only factor in a child's health & nutrition (and even more, its emotional development), as it's often made out to be.

Nevertheless, for me at the moment breastfeeding feels like the right choice for my baby, but I'm very fortunate to have the time & resources to be able to do it. It IS tiring, it is often draining, & it means that only I am in charge of my son's food (except on the few times when I express). These negatives should also be taken into account & presented honestly to those who are about to make a choice on whether or not to breastfeed...

Anyway. I'm sure there are many sides to this debate, & I'll be glad to keep reading & hearing others' opinions

LaVieEnRose Sun 14-Sep-08 10:35:24

You can quote all the "research" you like, I still believe that the milk you choose to give your baby makes no difference in the long run.

Other factors such as food, where you live, family medical history etc. has much more impact on a person's life

StormInanEcup Sun 14-Sep-08 10:48:50

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LaVieEnRose Sun 14-Sep-08 10:48:56

I just told Dh (a Doctor who was FF) about the fact that he is "missing" 7 IQ points. He is wondering how his life could have been if he had been BF. He is now convinced he could have taken over the world! He is also ROFL at how ridiculous you all sound!

But please, carry on.

charchargabor Sun 14-Sep-08 10:49:03

So if every food that you give them matters, why doesn't the milk? Strange logic that.

StormInanEcup Sun 14-Sep-08 10:50:40

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LaVieEnRose Sun 14-Sep-08 11:06:28

Milk matters! It just doesn't matter which milk! FFS! Grow a brain please!

And please don't equate cancer research which obviously has benefits to bloody which milk is "best" research, it's not even in the same league.

<walks away shaking head>

StormInanEcup Sun 14-Sep-08 11:11:12

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Onestonetogo Sun 14-Sep-08 11:11:21

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StormInanEcup Sun 14-Sep-08 11:22:43

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LaVieEnRose Sun 14-Sep-08 11:25:17

It's also dangerous to spout the BF is the norm crap on here when it quite clearly isn't in this country. But as you were.

Hope you find your missing 7 IQ points soon!

FairLadyRantALot Sun 14-Sep-08 11:26:12

LaVie...maybe you should take your own know the one where you say :grow a brain

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