I know I am not a pediatrician or a family practice doctor, so some may wonder why I am so focused on breastfeeding.   I am a surgeon who deals a ton with the breasts and the effects of breastfeeding.  I have heard rumblings while being a mom-around-town of women who are choosing not to breastfeed their children because they are concerned about the cosmetic effect it will have on their breasts.  I am a fan of breastfeeding.  Please see the other blogs prior to this and the results of a study which just came out.

For the hypereducated Bay Area women reading my blog, here is another pro for breastfeeding:

MUCH lower risk of SIDS.

SIDS is sudden infant death syndrome.  It affects 2,300 babies a year.  The cause is unknown.  From the sids.org site, risk factors include having a baby as a teen, less than one year between pregnancies, tobacco/cocaine/heroin use during pregnancy, and premature birth.  After the baby is born: have the crib in your room, no bedding/pillows, sleep on the back, use a pacifier, avoid respiratory infections, and do not overheat the baby.  The risk is highest between 2-4 months of age.  90% of SIDS occur in babies less than 6 months.

In Pediatrics June 2011 online edition, Hauck and researchers at University of Virgina did metaanalysis of 18 studies looking at breastfeeding and risk of SIDS.  Findings:

  • 73% reduction in risk if exclusively breastfed
  • 60% reduction in risk if breastfed for any time period
  • 45% reduction when other factors known to increase SIDS were factored out, like smoking, socioeconomic status, and sleep position.

 

Why does breastfeeding lead to lower risk?  Thoughts vary.  Hypothesis include:

  • Breastfed babies are more arousable during sleep
  • Fewer issues with diarrhea and respiratory infections, which may predispose to SIDS
  • Possible boost of their immunity from the breastmilk.

So, pediatricians recommend breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months and then continue to nurse for the first year, as you introduce solid foods.  So bond with your child, lose weight (anyone for an extra slice of cheesecake?), and protect them from SIDS…. Breastfeeding is sounding pretty good.