The components of breast milk provide the needed nutrition for babies, and boost the baby’s immune system. These breast milk components are easier to absorb and digest than baby formula because it contains living growth factors, hormones and enzymes which help a baby to easily digest all the goodness from every feeding. Breast milk composition starts as colostrum then changes to mature milk, which gives the child theappropriate nutrition for his/her development process from newborn to older infant. One of the most important benefits of breast milk is that it contains living components such as infection fighting antibodies, white blood cells, red blood cells, and anti-viral factors.
In the United States, infants who are breastfed have lower mortality rates compared to infants who were not breastfed. Also, breastfeeding is associated with decreasing acute illnesses such as gastrointestinal infections, lower respiratory tract diseases and acute otitis media. Further, in developed countries researchers found that for infants who were not breastfed risk of dying from infectious diseases in the first month is six times greater than infants who were breastfed. Similarly, breastfeeding has been linked to the decrease in the risk of gastrointestinal infections, lower respiratory tract diseases and acute otitis media for infants in developed countries. Also, breastfeeding practice plays a significant role in reducing the rates of childhood obesity, certain allergic conditions, type 2 diabetes and leukemia.
However, a published report from WHO claimed that breastfeeding has a small association with preventing obesity. Breastfeeding reduced the percentage for obesity at school age by about 20%, after modifying for related factors such as infant birth weight, parental overweight, parental smoking, dietary factors, physical activity and maternal socioeconomic status.
In addition, breastfeeding has other long-term benefits for infants, such as such as higher cognitive outcome in full-term infants, less cardiovascular mortality in adults and lower adult blood pressure. However, these benefits could be achieved if the other risk factors have been considered.