Breastfeeding, newborn growth and the early months
By Springfield Pediatrics- Dr. Diji Vaughan
June 30, 2012
Category: Food and Nutrition

 

Humans are the only species that routinely ingest the milk from other species, our hierarchy on the food chain confers that ability to all of us and there are distinct nutritional advantages and health benefits to that. Our newborn infants, time and again have been shown to fare better when nourished with human milk. The inherent advantages apparent in any infant fed human milk are legion and won’t be exhausted in this post today.

With about seven billion of us on God’s good green planet today, racial and ethnic diversity the world over would be instinctively expected to lead to different growth patterns in our newborns respectively along these lines - aaah!, Not so, if they are all breastfed newborns. Scientific data drawn between 1997 and 2003 from six different geographic sites across the world by the World Health Organization showed this to be the fact. The sites were, Pelotas, Brazil; Accra, Ghana; Delhi, India; Oslo, Norway; Muscat, Oman; and California, USA.

The researchers generated a question, that infants and young children have the potential to grow similarly, regardless of their race/ethnicity and place of birth, if they are breastfed, living in a safe healthy environment, and have adequate nutrition. This study answered the question in mathematical certainty with the answer, yes. The average growth measurements from birth up to 24 months in the 6 country sites were virtually identical.

The new standard for tracking growth parameters in the first 2-years of life has now changed to the growth curves generated from the above study sponsored by the World Health Organization as it more accurately reflects what the ideal growth pattern should be for a given newborn. All newborns will now be compared to this standard and the use of the new WHO growth curves is now recommended in the USA.

Join us in our advocacy for breastfeeding and feeding of human milk exclusively in the first 6-months of life followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, and the continuation of breastfeeding for 1 year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant. The medical contraindications to breastfeeding are uncommon and concerns along these lines should be discussed with your physician before deciding to discontinue breastfeeding your newborn as result of a medical condition. 

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