Why should you Breastfeed Even if it is ONLY for a Short Time?
Why should you breastfeed even if it is only for a short time? Read below for some convincing reasons: Colostrum Colostrum is low in fat, but high in carbohydrates and protein. It is also very rich in vitamin A, a micronutrient that is essential to good health, particularly in preventing blindness, as well as in preventing infection. Colostrum contains antibodies that are effective in fighting infection and keeping the baby healthy. It is easily digestible, making it the perfect first food for a baby. Its laxative effect helps the baby pass early stools, which aids in the excretion of excess bilirubin and helps prevent jaundice. The first few days of breastfeeding are probably the most important for a baby, and because the baby’s stomach is very small he or she will be able to consume only a small amount of protein at a time. As a result, the baby will need to be fed nine or more times in a 24-hour period. Colostrum acts like a natural oral vaccine because it contains large quantities of an antibody called secretory immunoglobin A (IgA). IgA protects the baby’s mucous membranes in the throat, lungs and intestines from infection. Colostrum also has high concentrations of white blood cells, called leukocytes, which fight bacteria and viruses. Colostrum is especially important in the gastrointestinal tract. A newborn’s intestines are very permeable. Colostrum helps seal the permeable intestines by creating a barrier that helps prevent foreign substances from penetrating and possibly sensitizing a baby to foods the mother has eaten. While these effects continue once the colostrum changes to milk, the immunological response to viruses and bacteria is not as powerful as in the beginning. However, the effects of the initial colostrum are long-lasting. Studies have shown that children who are breastfed rather than formula-fed have a lower frequency of allergic, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases and lymphomas in their later life when compared with children who have been formula-fed after birth. Besides these effects, colostrum has a positive effect on blood sugar and aids in development of the heart, lungs and brain. – Cheryl K. Smith, excerpted from “Nature’s Perfect Food: Colostrum,” The Birthkit Issue 49 In Brazil, where enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (E. coli) diarrhea is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in newborns, a study used Western blot analysis to determine the extent to which IgA in colostrum is reactive with enteropathogenic E. coli proteins. The analyses revealed that the colostrum samples contained a secretory immunoglobulin A that was reactive with all the virulence-associated proteins studied. Researchers concluded that maternal antibodies in colostrum may protect infants from E. coli infection by interfering with the attaching and effacing lesions brought on by transmembrane and intracellular signals caused by E. coli, and by cell signaling, which involves anti-enteropathogenic E. coli-secreted protein A and B antibodies. – J Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, 1998, 27(2) A study determined that the anti-infective factors in the colostrums of mothers of preterm infants differ from those of mothers of full-term infants. The 25 mothers were matched for age, parity, quality of nutrition and hemoglobulin levels. In the mothers of preterm infants, the concentrations of total protein and the antimicrobial agents SigA, lysozyme and lactoferrin were significantly greater than in the colostrums of the mothers of full-term infants, although the mean 12-hour volume of colostrums was significantly lower in the preterm group. The preterm colostrums also contained far higher counts of total cells, macrophages, lymphocytes and neutrophils. Degree of prematurity correlated with volume, protein, concentration and cell and macrophage counts. The study concluded that although the volume of colostrums is lower the more preterm the infant, the quality is higher in terms of soluble anti-infective agents and cells. – J Trop Pediatr, 1991, 327(5)