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There is always so much research and comment on the benefits of breast feeding: should it be one month, should it be a year, should it be more or less? The latest research published this week suggests that those babies who are fed exclusively on breast milk for the first six months of their life are less likely to have infections. It has been said that the number of infections the baby suffers and indeed the severity of those infections will be less.
How did researchers come to this conclusion?
1,000 babies were tested. Of those babies, those fed on breast milk only for the first six months had significantly less common infections than the other babies. The other babies were either fed only on formula or were fed on a mix of both formula and breast milk.
The breast fed babies had fewer instances of respiratory infection, ear infections and thrush. Other factors which could influence the infection rates were taken into account. However, there are a few flaws in the findings.
- Mothers had to recall illnesses rather than consult actual medical records so they may have made errors.
- Less than 100 of the babies were exclusively breast fed which is a small sample.
- Different mothers may consider the severity of any illness differently which may distort findings. What one mother said is severe, another may consider is only slight.
The research was carried out by the University of Crete and published in the Archives of Deseases in Childhood. The Government recommends new babies are breastfed for the first six months.