Breast is best for babies

J Natl Med Assoc. 2005 Jul;97(7):1010-9.


Breastfeeding is the optimal method of infant feeding. Breast milk provides almost all the necessary nutrients, growth factors and immunological components a healthy term infant needs, Other advantages of breastfeeding include reduction of incidences and severity of infections; prevention of allergies; possible enhancement of cognitive development; and prevention of obesity, hypertension and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Health gains for breastfeeding mothers include lactation amenorrhea, early involution of the uterus, enhanced bonding between the mother and the infant, and reduction in incidence of ovarian and breast cancer. From the economic perspective, breastfeeding is less expensive than formula feeding. In most cases, maternal ingestion of medications and maternal infections are not contraindications to breastfeeding. Breastfeeding, however, is contraindicated in infants with galactosemia. The management of common breastfeeding issues, such as breast engorgement, sore nipples, mastitis and insufficient milk, is discussed. Breastfeeding should be initiated as soon after delivery as possible. To promote, protect and support breastfeeding, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) developed the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. Healthcare professionals have an important role to play in promoting and protecting breastfeeding.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lactation / physiology*
  • Milk, Human / chemistry
  • Milk, Human / immunology*
  • Nutritional Status
  • Pregnancy