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Breast Is Still Best

Studies with counterintuitive conclusions are great at generating splashy headlines. The question is if they should be taken seriously. A recent study featured by CNN was apparently designed to upend the near consensus about the long-term benefits of breastfeeding. Should it be taken seriously?

This breastfeeding study concluded that all of the past research that concluded breastfeeding provides long-term cognitive advantages are wrong. Instead, they attributed the results to socioeconomic factors. They concluded that it is the nurturing relationship rather than the actual breast milk that is most responsible for the demonstrable cognitive benefits.
This study could easily do a great deal of harm. Many women do not have access to the truth about breastfeeding and have been misled by infant-formula marketing to believe they must spend thousands of dollars a year to provide the best nutrition for their babies.

Despite the propaganda turned out by formula makers, breastfeeding rates continue to rise in the U.S. and it seems unlikely that one study can reverse this trend. The fact is that barring any extreme exceptions such as certain transmittable diseases or drug use, breast milk is the best food for babies, period.

Proper nutrition in infancy has lasting effects on health and well-being. A study of nearly 6,000 babies followed from birth until they turned 30 years old found that those who were breastfed had increased intelligence, longer schooling and higher earning as adults. The longer the children were breastfed, the better they tended to be doing as adults.

If you are a woman who is unable to breastfeed, or you have adopted your newborn, you may want to consider using donated breast milk. Unfortunately, there is one major downside to using breast milk from human milk banks that are now available in the U.S. The milk has been pasteurized, which means many of the essential immune-building elements will be decimated in the pasteurization process and your infant will fail to receive this crucial support when he or she needs it the most.

Soy-based infant formula is among the worst commercial foods you could give your baby. It is laden with toxins such as manganese and aluminum. It is likely that at some point in the future when all the health complications are fully appreciated, it will be removed from the market and banned. Even organic milk-based infant formulas have been found to be contaminated with chemical additives. The best alternative to breast milk is to make a healthy homemade infant formula. There may be others, but here is one recipe for homemade formula created by the Weston Price Foundation, which I believe is sound.
 
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