Natural Family Planning: Breastfeeding Research published in April and May 2018

Mortality prevention
Breastfeeding all babies for the first two years would save the lives of more than 820,000 children under age 5 annually.  In many hospitals and communities around the world, whether a child can be breastfed or not can make the difference between 1) life and death and 2 whether a child will develop to reach his or her full potential. Joint Press Release, WHO and UNICEF, Geneva, April 11, 2018

Childhood leukemia
Any breastfeeding for 6 months or longer was associated with a 19% lower risk for childhood leukemia. “A causal mechanism for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia,” Nature Reviews Cancer, May 21, 2018.

New evidence that human breast milk is packed with immune cells ready to attack bad bacteria, “Presence and Profile of Innate Lymphoid Cells in Human Breast Milk,” JAMA Pediatrics, May 2018.

Breast cancer
The evidence shows that, in general, the greater the number of months that women continue breastfeeding their babies, the greater the protection these women have against breast cancer.  The goal is to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months and then up to two years of age or beyond alongside appropriate complementary foods.  Cancer Prevention Recommendation by the World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research, 2018.

Maternal blood pressure
Women who breastfeed more children, and for longer periods of time, are less likely to experience high blood pressure, or hypertension, after they reach menopause.  “Breastfeeding and Maternal Hypertension,”  American Journal of Hypertension, May 7, 2018.

Too many babies are not breastfed.
Babies in wealthy countries are five times more likely to miss out on breastfeeding than those in the under-developed, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Thursday, May 10th, explaining that this gap could be addressed by better support for working mothers, and regulating sales of infant formula.  Each year some 7.6 million babies across the world are not breastfed despite clear evidence that breastfeeding can save lives and protect babies and mothers against deadly diseases. Breastfeeding is the best gift a mother, rich or poor, can give her child. The US alone accounts for more than one-third of the 2.6 million babies in high-income countries who were never breastfed. UNICEF, May 10, 2018.

For those concerned about the February meeting of bishops, see John’s article for Catholic World Report where he submits that Humana Vitae and dissent need to be on the table at the Feb. meeting.






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