Breastfeeding facts you need to know. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Did you know that August 1- 7 is World Breastfeeding Week?

The theme this year is Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for Life! One organization states: “In 1990, eight global goals, the Millennium Development Goals, were set by governments and the United Nations to fight poverty and promote healthy and sustainable development in a comprehensive way by 2015.”

We know that 70 percent of American women begin breastfeeding, but by six months that number is down to 35 percent.

They have eight goals listed and I thought we would look at each one:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. In a nutshell, breastfeeding is better for baby and costs less. This is much cheaper for the family budget.
  2. Achieve universal primary education. Breastfeeding enhances mental development and thus promotes learning. We know that, overall, children who are breastfed have higher IQs. This may sound strange, but studies show that breastfed children have four-fifths of a point higher IQ per month the mother breastfeeds. If you’ve noticed, they’ve added things to formula in the last few years. As an example, in approximately 2002, fatty acids were added to formula (which is naturally in breast milk). There is a carbohydrate called oligosaccharide that is in breast milk and not in formula. This carbohydrate is thought to be a vital part of brain development of babies.
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women.  I personally struggle with this one a little, but I’d like to hear what you think! I do think breastfeeding empowers women.
  4. Reduce child mortality. One researcher felt that by exclusively breastfeeding, there is a potential of saving about 20 percent of child deaths younger than age 5. The goal stated that infant mortality could be reduced by 13 percent with more and longer breastfeeding timelines being practiced.
  5. Improve maternal health. We know that breastfeeding does a lot for baby, but also for mom. Some of these include decreased breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer rates. Also it helps decrease the chance of osteoporosis.
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. Breastfeeding with antiretroviral therapy decreases the passing of HIV from mom to baby.
  7. Ensure environmental stability. This means less use of plastics, containers and rubber nipples, which all promote a better environment.
  8.  Develop a global partnership for development. This incorporates multiple agencies and groups working together to promote health and breastfeeding around the world.