Advantages of breast feeding

Normal and Therapeutic Nutrition 3(2+1)
Lesson 12:Nutritional And Food Requirements For Infants

Advantages of breast feeding

Breastfeeding is not only beneficial to infant but also to the mother.

  1. Nutritional factors
  2. Composition of human milk is best suited to the infants. Mammal’s milk is tailor made in terms of nutrients to its young ones. Table shows the comparison data of human milk with cow’s and buffalo’s milk.

    Table : Comparison of human milk with cow’s and buffalo’s milk (per 100g.)

    Water (g) 88 87.5 81
    Energy (k cal) 65 67 117
    Protein (g) 1.1 3.2 4.3
    Carbohydrate (g) 7.4 4.4 5.0
    Fat (g) 3.4 4.1 6.5
    Calcium (mg) 28 120 210
    Phosphorus (mg) 11 90 130
    Iron (mg) -- 0.2 0.2
    Carotene (?g) 137 174 160
    Thiamine (mg) 0.02 0.05 0.04
    Riboflavin (mg) 0.02 0.19 0.1
    Vitamin C (mg) 3 2 1
    Caseinogen & Lactalbumin ratio 1:2 3:1 --

    Source: Gopalan C., B.V. Ramasastri and S.C. Balasubramanian (1991), Nutritive Value of Indian Foods, National Institute of Nutrition, ICMR, Hyderabad, 500 007, India.

  3. Immunological factors:
    • Immunoglobulins: IgA, IgG, IgM
    • Cellular elements: Lymphoid cells, polymorphs, macrophages, plasma cells
    • Opsonic and chemotactic activities of C3 and C4 complement system.
    • Unsaturated lactoferrin and transferrin
    • Lysozyme
    • Lactoperoxidase
    • Specific inhibitors (non- immunoglobulins) antiviral and anti staphylococcal factors.
    • Growth factors for lactobacillus bifidus.
    • Para- amino benzoic acid may afford some protection against malaria.
  4. Psychological factors:
    • Infant derives a sense of security and belongingness in a mother and child relationship.
    • Mother will have sense of calm and satisfaction which favours the production of required hormones.
  5. Economic factors:
  6. It is economical to breast feed than going for expensive commercial preparations, sterilizing equipments.

  7. Physiological factors
    • Breast feeding is an important birth control method. Prolactin (synthesis of milk production), decreases the synthesis of ovarian hormones.
    • Uterus of mother comes back to normal size and bleeding is arrested due to secretion of oxytocin and enables mother to shed extra weight accumulated during pregnancy.
  8. Other advantages:
    • Infants jaw becomes fully developed as he works hard to extract milk.
    • Milk is microbiologically sterile and less danger of contamination in breast fed infants, Motility rate is decreased.
    • Low danger of incorrect formula and over feeding
    • Decreased chance of allergic reactions as human milk protein do not cause allergies.
    • Lower rate of sudden infant death or cot death.
    • Less renal solute load as there is less urea and sodium to excrete.
    • Less colic as fats and protein in human milk are more easily digested and less likely to create gastric and intestinal distress.
    • Human milk is always fresh and at right temperature.
    • Breast feeding can be continued during illness of the infant (diarrhoea etc) and after vaccination.
    • Scientific data says breast fed babies are less likely to develop obesity, hypertension, diabetes and atherosclerosis in later life.
    • There is evidence to suggest that breast fed babies have better cognitive and IQ score in later life.
    • It is one food that makes a complete meal. Meal is always ready – No preparation and no left overs.
    • Breast milk is a renewable source. It cannot be adulterated.
Last modified: Monday, 24 October 2011, 8:24 AM