Babies breastfed for six months ward off infections

Researchers from the University of Crete, Greece, monitored the health of just under 1,000 infants for a period of 12 months, reports the Daily Mail.

They recorded any common infections they had at one, three, six, nine and 12 months, which included respiratory and urinary infections, ear infections, stomach upsets, conjunctivitis and thrush, says British Medical Journal's Archives of Disease in Childhood.
The infants, drawn from a total of 6,878 births in 2004 in Crete, were routinely vaccinated and had access to a high standard of healthcare.

Researchers found the longer an infant was exclusively breastfed -- with no substitute formula feeds -- the lower the rate of infection.

Any infections they did pick up were less severe than those experienced by their peers who were either partially breastfed or not breastfed at all.

Factors such as parental age and education, exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, ethnicity and number of siblings influenced the frequency of infections, the findings showed.
Meanwhile, researchers concluded that antibodies passed on through the mother's milk, as well as nutritional and immunological factors, accounted for some of the differences observed.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), human milk is the most suitable food for newborn and young infants and exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first six months of life is recommended.  for six months ward off infections

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