BUCYRUS — Leaders of La Leche League of Crawford County are experienced breastfeeding mothers accredited by La Leche League International and are available daily to answer questions or concerns parents have about breastfeeding.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes human milk as “uniquely superior for infant feeding” and it and the World Health Organization both recommend only human milk with no other foods for the baby’s first six months. Breastfeeding should continue for at least 12 months and then as long as desired by both mother and baby, LLL International says. Once complementary foods are added, breastfeeding may continue up to 2 years of age and beyond.
Other groups that recommend breast milk for the first six months include the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine and the United Nations Children’s Fund.
According to LLL International, babies who are not breastfed have more frequent and severe colds, ear infections and diarrhea. They are at greater risk for pneumonia, meningitis, chronic conditions such as asthma and some forms of childhood cancer. Breastfeeding also may help protect against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, also known as SIDS.
Breastfeeding offers the greatest protection from illness when babies receive only human milk with no other foods, LLL says. The longer they continue to breastfeed, the more protection babies receive. Human milk improves the baby’s immune system so much that it protects the child even after weaning.
Human milk has nutrients crucial to a baby’s growing brain, according to LLL International. Studies show that children who were breastfed have IQs five to 10 points higher than those who were not.
Breastfeeding also has benefits for the mother. It reduces the mother’s risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancers and helps mothers lose weight. Working mothers who breastfeed need to use less sick time to care for their children, LLL International says. Breastfeeding can save mothers hundreds of dollars a year and is convenient, always ready and creates no dirty dishes. Breastfeeding also creates a close bond between the mother and the child and helps them both relax, LLL International says.
The group says healthy babies and mothers reduce health care costs and breastfeeding is the most environmentally friendly form of infant feeding. It does not pollute or contribute to waste. During natural disasters, when other food sources and clean water might not be available, breastfeeding can save the lives of babies, according to LLL International.
By ALISSA PAOLELLA