Breastfeeding clearly has many benefits for both mother and child – no one will argue against that – especially not during World Breastfeeding Week. Breast milk contains all the nutrients your child needs as a baby and is safer than most formula. Breastfeeding supports mama + baby bonding and may help prevent obesity. Plus breastfeeding is very affordable and it’s green because it’s package free. However, some benefits are debatable. For example, past research hasn’t been entirely clear about whether or not breastfeeding is linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) prevention or if this is just a wild theory. With this in mind, a team of doctors and researchers recently got together to examine the association between breastfeeding and SIDS. What the researchers learned is that breastfeeding is truly a protective measure that families can take against SIDS. Also, the protective effect is stronger when breastfeeding is exclusive.

For this study, researchers reviewed 288 previously published studies containing data on breastfeeding and SIDS. Several breastfeeding situations were examined. For example, breastfeeding partially or exclusively and for varying amounts of time. After reviewing the research, the researchers realized that breastfeeding can in fact reduce the risk of SIDS deaths. Any breastfeeding was deemed useful, but the research shows that babies receive more protection when they’re breastfed exclusively. This study wasn’t trying to prove why breastfeeding may be protective against SIDS, but the researchers had some theories. For one thing, breastfed infants are more easily aroused from active sleep than formula-fed infants at 2 to 3 months of age – within the peak age for SIDS deaths. The researchers also estimate that breastfeeding provides immunities that may protect infants during their most vulnerable period for SIDS. They point out that many infants who die from SIDS have experienced a minor infection in the days preceding death – so it makes sense that more breast milk immunity may help prevent SIDS deaths. SIDS prevention is another strong reason to breastfeed. If you need support, find out how to find a breastfeeding-friendly hospital and learn how to overcome breastfeeding challenges.

+ Breastfeeding and Reduced Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: A Meta-analysis

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