(NaturalNews) The sobering statistic is that every day approximately seven babies die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Recent research suggests the simple act of breastfeeding may significantly reduce the risk of this disease and the reduction may be particularly dramatic if the breastfeeding is exclusive of formula feeding: Health Day reports. The study published in the June 13 issue of Pediatrics found a 45% reduction in SIDS risk in babies who received any amount of breast milk and a whopping 73% reduction in those who were breastfed exclusively.
Aside from lowering SIDS risk, breast feeding provides other advantages. Experts widely regard breast milk as the best type of nourishment, as research indicates it fosters infants' development and lessens the risk of diseases for babies as well as their mothers. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes it reduces babies' chances of contracting infectious disease, ear infections and diarrhea. Breastfeeding helps mothers to lose the weight gained during pregnancy more quickly and also lessens their risk of ovarian and breast cancer. An additional benefit for mothers is reduced postpartum bleeding.
Although previous studies exploring the link between breastfeeding and reduced SIDS risk were not definitive, the new study provides strong evidence of the association. Lead researcher Dr. Fern R. Hauck states the investigation gives another important advantage of breast feeding, and for maximum benefit, it should be done exclusively.
While the cause for reduced SIDS risk is unclear, scientists have made several postulations. Breastfed babies are more easily aroused during sleep. This could play a role, since some experts believe SIDS is linked to a defect in arousability. Another theory is that these infants have fewer respiratory tract infections, which are linked to increased SIDS risks. A third theory is the immunity boost babies receive from breast milk may play a role in the lessened risk.
Dr. Hauck suggests that in addition to breastfeeding, other measures can also be taken to reduce SIDS risk. Infants who sleep in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed, have a lower incidence. Additionally, babies who use a pacifier during sleep have a reduced risk.
According to the Examiner, advice from medical experts is for mothers to breastfeed their infants for the first six months, exclusively without formula feeding. They further recommend the nursing continue through the first year, supplemented by additional food. After the first year, the breastfeeding can continue as long as the mothers and babies mutually desire it.
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