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Major study backs breast-feeding

Tuesday September 28th, 2010

Midwives have welcomed new research which highlights the powerful protection that breast-feeding gives babies against infection.

According to Greek researchers, a baby who is only breast-fed for six months is likely to have "significantly" fewer infections than other children - and to suffer less severe illnesses than others.

The findings, reported in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, come from a study of nearly 6,000 babies in Crete.

The researchers say their work confirms that breast-feeding is effective regardless of whether a child is vaccinated or has access to good health care.

Researcher Professor Emmanouil Galanakis, of the University of Crete, states: "Exclusive breastfeeding helps protect infants against common infections and lessens the frequency and severity of infectious episode not only in developing countries but also in communities with adequate vaccination coverage and healthcare standards."

Janet Fyle, of the UK Royal College of Midwives, said: "This research is very welcome and adds to the growing weight of evidence about the many benefits of breastfeeding.

"As a nation we need to look at the issues that militate against mothers breastfeeding for longer such as the workplace, and facilities for mothers to breastfeed when they are out and about.

"The UK needs to see breastfeeding as a normal process, and to move away from some of the outdated and negative stigma that is depressingly still attached to it, specifically breastfeeding in public."

Arch Dis Child 2010; doi 10.1136/adc.2009.169912

Tags: Child Health | Childbirth and Pregnancy | Europe | Flu & Viruses | Nursing & Midwifery | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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