Breast Feeding Demonstrates Added Benefits for Mother and Baby

An article from the May 14, 2001 issue of WebMD demonstrated unexpected extra benefits of breast-feeding to both mother and child. The unique advantages had nothing to do with the acknowledged nutritional advantages previously documented for breastfeeding. The basis of these claims were two independent studies done on breastfeeding. One study demonstrated that breastfed babies were more tolerant of pain. The second study demonstrated that the bones of teenage mothers who breastfed had a higher bone mineral density than teen moms who hadn't breastfed.

The first of the two studies was conducted at Montreal Children's Hospital in Quebec, where researchers recruited 74 breastfeeding mothers of 2-month-olds. In this study the babies were observed in order to see if nursing had any impact on the child's ability to manage pain. Final results of this study demonstrated that regardless of what type of observation analysis was used, there was a documented 50% decrease in pain reaction in the children which were breastfed. The theory for explaining these results is that the sucking, the transmission of the milk, and being in contact with the mother, assist to trigger systems in the baby's body accountable for reducing pain.

The second study illustrates a way teen mothers may benefit from breastfeeding. Prior to this study it was commonly believed that women during breastfeeding lose bone mineral density and teen moms tend to lose more. Adult mothers typically regain the bone loss after weaning their babies from breastfeeding. However, there was a concern about whether the bones of teenage mothers -- who are still growing and developing -- could recover from the nutritional rigors of breastfeeding. The results were surprising to researchers. What the researchers found was that the bones of teenage mothers who breastfed actually had higher bone mineral density than teen moms who hadn't breastfed even after they took into account factors such as weight, race, diet, and exercise.

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