Breastfeeding – missing the bigger picture, by Hilary Butler

The following is a very INCOMPLETE list of what the medical literature has to say about breast milk, and its influence on how a baby grows and lives:

1) In the first two days, clear fluid comes from the breast. This fluid spreads commensal flora throughout the babies mucosal surfaces and gut area. This flora was picked up during the baby’s descent down the vagina before being born. (No, caesarian babies don’t get that beneficial gut flora innoculation …, and yes, they pay a price for that.)

2) Colostrum lays down a huge body of anti-infection components as well as “kick-starting” the instruction of the gut flora. Remember that the intestinal system is… 70% of a person’s immune system, and it orchestrates the rest of the immune system.

3) Breast milk gives the baby its first stem cell transplant, with pluripotent cells which can help heal in most places of the body, and that stem cell infusion continues for the whole duration of breastfeeding.

4) Breast milk inactivates pathogens.

5) Protects against Pneumococcal disease (and protects the infant from other bacterial pathogens).

6) Breast milk regulates the immune system’s protective pathways.

7) Breast milk educates and orchestrates the immune system, and activates memory T cells.

8)Breast milk directly and positively affects lung growth and function in school children.

9) Breast milk helps prevent coeliac disease and obesity The slower growth of the breastfed baby reduces the risk of developing other lifestyle diseases later in life.

10) Breast milk reduces asthma incidence.

11) Breast milk neutralises endotoxins from all bacterial diseases (including meningococcal disease).

12) Breast milk creates a microbiome (a special colony of very helpful commensal bacteria which depends on breast milk) which is crucial not only to help the immune function properly and defend the baby against infections, but also to protect against cancer, digestive diseases, to synthesise micronutrients and concludes the digestion of food components which escape assimilation in the small intestine. The commensal bacteria of a formula bed baby is completely different to that of a breastfed baby.