The Benefits of Breastfeeding: Formula-Fed Babies Linked with Adult Obesity
More data confirms the benefits of breastfeeding your baby.
If you have ever considered feeding formula to your infant, even one with beneficial bacteria, a recent study may make you think twice.
Published in Archives of Disease in Childhood journal, this study confirms current information on the multiple benefits of breastfeeding your child, such as:
- The immune enhancing power of mother’s milk.
- The digestive enhancing properties of nourishing the baby’s intestinal microflora.
- The value of socialization and mother-child bonding that takes place during breastfeeding.
Body Ecology encourages mothers to breastfeed their children.
Body Ecology has known for some time the immunological benefits of a mother’s first milk, otherwise known as colostrum, and of mother-to-child contact.
- Colostrum activates the baby’s gut and also prompts thymus development. The thymus gland is an important part of the immune system, especially early in life. Colostrum is also filled with something called Secretory Immunoglobulin A (SIgA). SIgA is made during the first few days of life and helps protect an infant against infection, specifically from pathogens that may be affecting the mother.
- A mother’s milk also contains special sugars called oligosaccharides. Oligosaccharides feed good bacteria in the baby’s intestinal tract and are necessary for their growth. This type of prebiotic can actually inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria. The oligosaccharides found in human milk also work with the Toll-like Receptors, which are a part of the innate immune system.
- Toll-like Receptors, beneficial microbiota, and oligosaccharides all work together to protect the baby’s gut from an inflammatory response.
Researchers at Oxford University conducted a study using a “strengths and difficulties” questionnaire, completed by parents about their children. They found that abnormal scores were less likely in those children who were breastfed for at least four months. The study used a nationwide survey of babies born in 2000-2001 called the Millennium Cohort Study. Data included more than 9,500 mothers and babies born at full term.
Maria Quigley at Oxford’s national perinatal epidemiology unit, who led the study, says that, “We’re not necessarily talking about tear away, unmanageable five-year-old kids. It might be unusual anxiousness, restlessness, inability to socialize with other children, or play fully in groups.”
Breastfeeding your baby can provide both dietary and emotional benefits. Children that are breastfed for a minimum of four months are less likely to struggle with abnormal social behaviors!
Chinese Medicine: The Stomach Meridian
While researchers conducting the study speculate as to the mechanism behind this invaluable mother-child interaction, Chinese acupuncture meridian theory explains the importance of breastfeeding as a baby’s first contact with the world.
In acupuncture, what is known as the Stomach Meridian is a channel of energy that circulates the qi, or the energetics of the stomach, throughout the entire body. This channel of stomach qi:
- Begins at the nose
- Emerges just beneath the eyes
- Travels down the face
- Encircles the mouth and moves up along the jaw, in front of the ears
According to acupuncture theory, the Stomach Meridian touches upon all five senses. These five senses are our most fundamental of sensations. They are how an individual relates to the external world. Taoist theory explains that the Stomach Meridian is responsible for our initial contact with the world.
The nipple is actually an acupuncture point on the Stomach Meridian, called “Breast Center”, or ST-17. When an infant makes contact with its mother, looks up at her, smells her, and nurses from her breast, the Stomach Meridian of both mother and child are activated.
Therefore, someone who is shy, timid, and antisocial is likely to be treated along the Stomach Meridian when receiving acupuncture. How a child begins to embrace the world begins with the first embrace, via his or her own orifices – the eyes, the nose, and especially the mouth, which is involved in nursing.
Clinically, this may manifest as learning disorders like dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder, or as a child that has a difficult time bonding with others and easily loses connection with those that he or she is in social contact with.
Taoist acupuncture theory suggests that if a child is not breastfed, the child may later look for things to create a sense of bonding and nourishment. Food at this point often becomes a source of feeling bonded, complete, and nurtured, and eating disorders can arise.
Taoist acupuncture theory also explains the emotional element involved in breastfeeding and traces emotional disorders in children that were not breastfed to a lack of energetic connection made during infancy.
The Obesity-Formula Connection
Current studies draw a strong correlation between formula-fed infants and obesity in adulthood. While there are certainly physical nutritive elements involved like immunoglobulins and beneficial microflora, another piece of the puzzle can be in the energetic bonding that takes places between a mother and her child along the Stomach Meridian.
Quigley, who led the Oxford study, says that, “Mothers who want to breastfeed should be given all the support they need. Many women struggle to breastfeed for as long as they might otherwise like, and many don’t receive the support that might make a difference.”
What To Remember Most About This Article:
Body Ecology supports mothers breastfeeding their children. According to a study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood journal, breastfeeding a child boosts their immune system, enhances their digestion, and improves their social skills through the mother-child bonding that takes place during breastfeeding.
Taoist acupuncture theory also indicates that if a baby is not breastfed, a child could turn to food later in life to satisfy their need for bonding and nourishment. Similarly, recent studies have shown that formula-fed infants have been linked to a risk of adult obesity.
Kelland, Kate. “Fewer behavior problems for breastfed kids: study.” Reuters Health. May 09 2011. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/09/us-breastfeeding-behaviour-idUSTRE7486TJ20110509?feedType=RSS&