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Mother’s Milk May Help Premature Babies to Get Metabolic Boost

A new study shows that a mother’s breast milk plays an important metabolic role in a premature baby’s development and survival, according to NDTV. From an abundance of nutrition to infection protection, breast milk contains microRNAs that also influence an infant’s metabolism. For preterm babies, who have different nutritional needs than those born full-term, being breast-fed helps them better metabolize gastrointestinal function and energy use, thus assuring them of better outcomes.

It’s well-established that breast milk is a perfect food for the human infant, as it contains all the nutrients vital for healthy growth and development, plus beneficial microbes that promote a healthy gut microbiome. In previous studies, prematurely born babies who received their mother’s milk had a 46 to 90 percent reduced risk of developing retinopathy of prematurity, an eye disease that in 10 percent of severe cases causes blindness.

Other studies have shown that people who were breast-fed as infants had increased intelligence, longer schooling, and higher earning as adults; that breast-fed infants have lower rates of chronic and infectious diseases and that worldwide, breast-feeding could save 800,000 infants’ lives each year.

An added plus is that breast-feeding also benefits the mother: Studies show that nearly 17 percent of women who lactated for a month or less had atherosclerotic plaques, a risk factor for heart disease, compared with less than 11 percent of those who breast-fed for 10 months or longer.

Yet, even with so much going for it, it’s a shame that modern “medicine” has so medicalized breast-feeding that some pediatricians are advising their colleagues not to call breast-feeding “natural.” The reasoning behind this is the fear that the word “natural” may mislead mothers into thinking “natural” approaches of all kind are better than their medicalized delivery of health “care.”

Of course, the authors of this so-called advice received backlash for it, and rightfully so. The plain truth is the breast is best.
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