Children who have been breastfed have lesser risks of contracting diseases.
This is because the breast milk contains antibodies that help protect babies from infection, and stimulate their immune system.
According to Deputy Director of the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Mrs. Modupe Aina, the protection derived from breast milk could last a child for many years.
She added that breast milk is far better than from formula milk, as it contains antibodies that may not be found in the formula.
“The longer babies breast feed, the greater the health benefits,” Aina told NAN.
“Studies have compared the health of children who were breastfed as babies and children who were fed on formula milk, and the results showed that breast feeding substantially reduced the risk of illness in such babies.”
The World Health Organisation recommends that mothers breast feed their babies within the first six months with no other food or drink. This is to enhance the overall development of children.
Aina advised that after the first six months, the mothers could then add other foods to the breast milk.
“Mothers could continue breastfeeding with other food and drinks, as long as it is convenient for them,” she added.
She warned that breastfeeding for a short time, even for a few days or weeks, is better than not breastfeeding at all.
Specific health benefits for the baby include less risk of diarrhoea; tummy upsets and gastroenteritis; and cough, ear, chest, and urine infections.
For the mother, it reduces susceptibility to ovarian and breast cancer.
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