5 things you need to know about breastfeeding

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Breastfeeding has health benefits for mothers and children. A new study suggests breastfeeding can reduce a mother's risk of heart attack and stroke. The study analyzed 289,573 women in China. 6 months of breastfeeding = 4% less likely to have heart disease 6 months of breastfeeding = 3% less likely to have a stroke This study does not prove breastfeeding is strictly the cause of the positive health effects.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

News Center 7's Kate Bartley explores why the medical community is seeing a shortage of breast milk in the U.S. Watch a special report on Wednesday, July 24, at 5 p.m.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for about the first 6 months with continued breastfeeding alongside introduction of appropriate complementary foods for 1 year or longer.

Here are five things you need to know about breastfeeding, and its impact on mothers and infants:

1. CONTINUED BREASTFEEDING

The World Health Organization also recommends exclusively breastfeeding up to 6 months of age with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to 2 years of age or beyond.

2. PRACTICES VARY ACROSS U.S. 

Infants living in the southeast are less likely to be breastfed at 6 months than infants living in other areas of the country. Infants in rural areas are less likely to ever breastfeed than infants living in urban areas. Younger mothers (aged 20 to 29 years) are less likely to ever breastfeed (79.0%) than mothers aged 30 years or older (84.8%).

3. BREAST MILK SHORTAGE There is a perceived shortage of breast milk. The biggest demand for breast milk is coming from neonatal intensive care units. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies born with a birth weight lower than 1,500 grams (3.3 pounds) are fed breast milk, The Associated Press reported.

4. SHADY ONLINE PRACTICES 

Health experts at the Milk Bank warn against purchasing milk online. A quick search turned up supplies selling for hundreds of dollars -- up to $4 an ounce.

"Research has shown when there's money involved, there's more of a likelihood of tampering with milk," said Chris Smith, Milk Bank Director of Operations.

5. BREAST MILK ADVANTAGES 

Research shows that breastfed babies have lower risks of:

  • Asthma
  • Leukemia (during childhood)
  • Obesity (during childhood)
  • Ear infections
  • Eczema (atopic dermatitis)
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Lower respiratory infections
  • Necrotizing (NEK-roh-TEYE-zing) enterocolitis (en-TUR-oh-coh-LYT-iss), a disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract in premature babies, or babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Type 2 diabetes

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