ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What Are the Health Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mother and Child?

Updated on January 24, 2015

Breastfeeding: Longer, the better

Breastfeeding has several positive effects on the health of both mother and infant. On the average, breastfed children have a lower risk of: respiratory infections , gastrointestinal infections, middle ear inflammation, obesity , type 2 diabetes mellitus , hypertension , and atopic dermatitis compared with children who are not breastfed. The benefits for mothers are as follows: a reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis, faster weight loss and subsequent return of menstruation. The health effects are greater as the mother is breastfeeding longer.

Less risk of infection if breastfed more than six months

Children who are breastfed for longer than six months have a lower risk of infections of the upper respiratory tract, infections of the lower respiratory tract and gastrointestinal infections than children who never breastfed. This is evidenced by the results of the Generation R Study Rotterdam. The effect is visible in the first six months of the child... Children from seven to twelve months of age have fewer infections of the lower respiratory tract if they are breastfed for more than four months.

Children who are six months or more to get full breastfeeding, have a lower risk of gastrointestinal infections than children who, after three or four months start weaning off breastfeeding.

Full breastfeeding means that children get no other food or drink besides breast milk.

How to breastfeed

Less risk of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure

Breastfeeding has a small but consistent protective effect on the occurrence of (severe) obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life. Again, the effects for the child are greater if the mother gives (full) breastfeeding longer. In addition, breastfeeding reduces the risk of high blood pressure. Breastfed children at a later age have lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

It is still unknown how breastfeeding protects against obesity, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure or that there is another explanation for the association. Mothers who (long-term) breastfeeding, often differ from mothers who do not.


Prolonged breast feeding protects against rheumatoid arthritis

Mothers who are breastfeeding a year or more in their lives, have significantly less risk of rheumatoid arthritis ( RA ), compared with mothers who never breast-feeding. The protective effect increases with the duration of breastfeeding. RA is more common in women than in men. This could mean that hormonal factors play a role. There is also evidence that mothers who breastfeed long have a lower risk of premenopausal breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Breastfeeding has beneficial effects on child development

Breastfeeding promotes neurological, visual and cognitive development of the child. The intelligence test score of breastfed children on average were 5 points higher than non-breastfed children. This favorable effect is ascribed to the presence of essential fatty acids in breast milk, in particular DHA and AA , which are important for brain tissue, and the retina. These fatty acids are abundant in the child during pregnancy.

No significant association between breastfeeding and eczema

Breastfed children seem to have a lower risk of eczema, but the difference with non-breastfed children is not significant. For other allergic diseases such as asthma and food allergy, the evidence is less strong.

#1 recommended by Lactation Consultants in the USA

Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream, 100% Natural Lanolin Cream for Breastfeeding, 1.41 oz Tube
Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream, 100% Natural Lanolin Cream for Breastfeeding, 1.41 oz Tube

"Soothes and protects sore, dry and cracked nipples, 100% natural"


Positive effects on milk composition and bonding

The positive effects for the child may arise from the composition of breast milk (essential fatty acids, sodium and other components), the skin to skin contact and the specific attention of the mother to the child during feeding. The composition of breast milk acts directly on the intestinal flora of the child and help to be immune to infections. The contact between mother and child and specifically the skin contact may be beneficial for the adhesion and the development of the child.

The Adverse effects

With breastfeeding mother can transfer some pollutants, such as dioxins and fat soluble PCB 's to her child. Exposure to high concentrations of dioxins and PCBs is associated with lower scores in tests for neurological and cognitive development. However, the effects are not large and are clinically considered of little relevance. The adverse effect of potential environmental contaminants in breast milk does not outweigh the health benefits of breastfeeding.

Breast milk does not provide enough vitamin K. Breast milk contains less vitamin K than bottle feeding.

Apart from environmental contaminants, viruses and medications can also end up with the child through breast milk. In those cases, a mother should take at most care to prevent her child from infections. This is the case when the mother has certain infectious diseases such as HIV and under severe medication (eg antidepressants).

Share your opinion on breastfeeding

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)