Breastfeeding: Why And How Article 4
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Breastfeeding: Why And How Article 4

This will be the fourth and last in this series of articles covering the extensive information on this topic. I hope you have found them helpful.

Continuing on with the Components of Mother's Milk

Immunoglobulin - Infection-fighting proteins that circulate, like natural antibiotics, throughout the body and destroy germs called immunoglobulin's are also contained in human milk along with living white cells. Baby's immune system is immature, or deficient in protective antibodies in the first six months of life. An infant makes some antibodies shortly after birth, but these do not reach adequate protective levels until nine to twelve months of age. Mother makes up for baby's insufficient immunity in many ways. By giving baby your blood antibodies across the placenta. But these blood immunoglobulin's are used up by nine months. As blood antibodies in baby go down, milk immunoglobulin's go up; milk completes the job of your blood, protecting baby until their own defense system matures -- a process that is well on its way by the end of the first year. Breasts function after birth as the placenta did before birth -- to nourish and protect.

Milk immunization - The first milk produced, colostrum, is the highest in white blood cells and infection-fighting proteins at the most opportune time, when the newborn's defenses are lowest. A perfect match. Consider colostrum baby's first immunization. To appreciate milk immunization, let's follow an important member of the immunoglobulin team, IgA, through baby's intestines. A baby's immature intestines are like a sieve, allowing foreign substances (allergenic proteins) to pass into the infant's blood, potentially causing allergies in the baby's early months. The IgA in breast milk provides a protective coating, sealing these leaks in the intestinal lining and preventing the passage of unwelcome germs and allergens.

Defense system continually updated - Each mother's milk is a custom-made infection repellent, fighting off germs in their baby's environment. The germs around you are continuously changing, by your body has a protective system that selectively recognizes friendly and harmful germs. In babies, this system is immature. When a new germ enters mother's body, she produces antibodies to that germ. This new army of infection fighters then enters her baby, via her milk. Baby is now also protected. This dynamic process of milk immunization constantly adapts to provide the mother-infant pair with the best defense system.

There was an article in the February 2, 1992 issue of USA TODAY with the Headline, "Mother's Milk: Food For Smarter Kids." Following in an excerpt from that article which adds credence to the Breastfeeding: Why and How.

"While numerous studies have shown that breastfeeding boosts development, this has been attributed more to nurturing than to the type of milk itself. But this study suggests that it's mother's milk than then (or in addition to) the process of breastfeeding that gives the developmental advantage. Researchers in England divided three hundred premature infants into two groups: those who received their mother's milk and those who didn't. Prematures who got their mother's milk during the first four to five weeks of life averaged 8.3 points higher on IQ tests at age seven and half to eight years. And the research suggested a dose-response relationship: The more mother's milk they got, the better the children scored. The difference could not be explained by increased nurturing, since the babies were fed breast milk by tube. At least eleven more scientific studies (some tracking children for long as eighteen years) have come to the same conclusion. The longer babies are breastfed, the greater their intellectual advantage. Why breast milk builds better rains is not fully known, but researchers attribute it to the effects of the hormones and growth factors not found in formula as well as the special fats that contribute to the structural development of the nervous system. There are around four hundred nutrients in breast milk that are not present in formula. To give your baby a good intellectual start, breast milk is the best mil for growing brains. Breastfeeding does make a difference."

There is more to come on other articles on "Breastfeeding."

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Sally Michener


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