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Is Infant Formula The Best Alternative to Breast-feeding?

Submitted by Stella Morgan on July 20, 2007

Giving the baby the best possible nutrition and keeping even the tiniest illness at bay is the main goal of any parent. A mother produces milk especially for its infant, and a baby should exclusively breast fed for first six months and continued until 12 months or beyond, if both the baby and the mother are willing. Breast milk is the ideal form of nutrition for your little ones; it meets the specific nutritional needs, is very convenient and economical too. Breast milk has just the right amounts and composition of fatty acids and proteins required for digestion, brain development and growth of an infant.  

Many researches prove that breast fed infants are much healthier and less prone to obesity than infants fed solely on formula feeds, the former have low mortality rates or death rates and are less susceptible to illnesses and infections.

Breast milk transfers mother’s antibodies to fight a disease to the infants. Babies who are breast fed are protected by various illnesses like bronchitis, pneumonia, influenza, botulism, ear infections, German measles and staphylococcal infections. However if a mother is unable to breast feed or who decides not to depending on her comfort level and lifestyle, formula feed is a good alternative.

Few medical reasons due to which a mother can not breast fed her infant include - HIV virus that can cause AIDS can pass through breast milk, certain illnesses like hepatitis, herpes or streptococcus infection. Each condition should be evaluated thoroughly by a specialist before the mother is advised to breast fed her baby.

Breast feeding or infant formula – this decision purely depends on a mother.

The important key is meeting the nutritional needs of the baby and the connection or bond between the mother and the baby. Breast feeding not only benefits the infant, but it is also good for new mothers. As nursing a baby burns extra calories, it is a good way to shed pounds gained during pregnancy.

It helps to shrink the uterus back to its normal shape and also lower the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. Nursing is a natural contraceptive as frequent nursing at regular intervals suppresses ovulation, menstruation and thus to get pregnant.

Infant formulas prepared commercially are regulated strictly by the Food and Drug Administration. Although baby formula has similar composition breast milk it is not the perfect food for infants. To analyze breast milk is a difficult task, as the exact chemical makeup of breast milk is still unknown. A mother’s milk gives the infant immunoglobulins, hormones, active enzymes, living cells and compounds with unique structure and composition that cannot be replicated in baby formula. Moreover no babies are allergic to their mother’s milk and breast milk contains more than 100 healthy ingredients that are not found in infant formulas.
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