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Breast-Feeding Cuts Infant Infection Risk

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Monday June 2 10:53 PM EDT
CHICAGO (Reuter) - Breast milk protects babies from mild infections and women who can breast feed should do so at least some of the time, a study said Monday.

The more breast milk consumed the less likely a baby will develop ear infection or diarrhea in the first seven months of life compared to infants fed formula, said researchers at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"When compared with exclusively breast-fed infants, infants who received formula only had an 80 percent increase in their risk of developing diarrhea and a 70 percent increase in their risk of developing an ear infection," study author Paula Scariati wrote. Diarrhea or ear infections were experienced by between 5.4 percent and 13.2 percent of infants between the ages of two and seven months.

"Exclusive breast-feeding is not crucial to confer this benefit," as mothers can supplement breast milk with formula, Scariati noted. "(But) the more breast milk an infant receives in the first six months of life, the better."

In the United States, 53 percent of women initiate breast-feeding, she said.

Previous studies have shown breast-feeding was beneficial to babies in developing countries, but research results were often contradictory in industrialized countries where overall nutrition and health care were better.

The latest study, published on the Internet by the journal Pediatrics, adjusted for factors such as family wealth and the use of day care facilities where infections often are passed along.

This Web page is referenced from another page containing related information about Breastfeeding/Nursing/Infant Nutrition


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