ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
When Healing Becomes a Commodity
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Beware of Dog Bites
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
A Little Drink May Be Good for Your Bones
CANCER
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Selenium, Omega-3s May Stave Off Colorectal Cancer
CAREGIVING
With Age Comes Greater Risk of Hypothermia
MRSA Infections Spreading to Kids in Community
Rapid Infant Weight Gain Linked to Childhood Obesity
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
DIABETES
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
B Vitamins Might Lower Stroke Risk
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Functional Foods Uncovered
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Smog Standards Need Tightening, Activists Say
Walkable Neighborhoods Keep the Pounds Off
Household Insecticides May Be Linked to Autoimmune Diseases
EYE CARE, VISION
Clues Found to Brain Mechanism Behind Migraines
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
Glaucoma Treatment Can Prevent Blindness
FITNESS
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Man Dies of Brain Inflammation Caused by Deer Tick Virus
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
A Little Alcohol May Help the Heart: Studies
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Babies Who Eat Fish Lower Eczema Risk
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
MEN'S HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Keeping a Healthy Holiday Balance
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
SENIORS
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Air Pollution Slows Women's Marathon Times
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis Risk
Add your Article

For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best

Reports on the benefits of breast-feeding continue to accumulate as researchers evaluate the breast-over-bottle option.

It's been shown to help a baby's later performance in school, to reduce the odds of problem behavior and to help kids cope with stress. And moms stand to benefit later on as well, studies show.

But what is it about breast-feeding that's so helpful and healthy?

For starters, breast milk is loaded with health-promoting nutrients. "It's not just one mechanism," said Melinda Johnson, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, a lecturer in nutrition at Arizona State University and a dietitian in private practice in nearby Chandler, Ariz.

"The nutrition [provided by breast-feeding] is perfect for the growing child," Johnson said. Take, for example, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an omega-3 fatty acid. "DHA is critical for brain development and also for nervous system development," Johnson said.

The presence of DHA in breast milk, she said, might explain the finding that breast-fed kids do better academically.

Breast milk also contains the amino acid taurine, considered important for neurological development, said Dr. Ruth Lawrence, who chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics' section on breast-feeding and is a professor of pediatrics and obstetrics-gynecology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York.

"Newborns and preemies cannot manufacture taurine," Lawrence said, although adults do. "Taurine is one of the amino acids needed for brain growth. The brain will double in size in the first year of life." That makes it critical to have nutrients that help brain growth.

"We in the breast-feeding field have been focusing on brain growth [and its importance] for a number of years," she said. Those who manufacture formula, Lawrence said, focus more on how much weight babies can gain with their product.

Breast milk also has been shown to jump-start a baby's immune system, and researchers think that's due at least in part to a protein found in breast milk. Called soluble CD14, it helps develop beta cells, a type of immune cell that helps produce antibodies, which are needed to protect against illnesses.

Breast milk also contains live and active organisms that can never be duplicated in formula, Johnson said. In one of the newer areas of research, experts have found that breast-fed babies' guts have different bacteria than those of formula-fed babies, and that the breast-fed babies' gut bacteria appears to be healthier, she said.

Other research has found that the intestinal bacteria present early in life play a role in whether a person will suffer from allergies, have an overactive immune system or tend to put on excess weight later in life, Johnson said.

Breast-feeding also has emotional and bonding benefits, according to Lawrence and Johnson, although they say it's harder to explain the "why" and "how" of those.

Though a mother who bottle-feeds also holds her baby, the child has actual physical attachment while breast-feeding. "Certain hormones, feel-good hormones, are released when a woman is breast-feeding," Johnson said, citing oxytocin and prolactin as examples. "The theory is, that's how the moms bond."

DHA has also been linked to mood, she said, and "if you have the right amount of DHA, you may be heading off mood disorders."

SOURCES: Ruth Lawrence, M.D., professor, pediatrics and obstetrics-gynecology, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, N.Y.; Melinda Johnson, R.D., lecturer, nutrition, Arizona State University, Mesa, Ariz.; Jan. 16, 2001, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; June 2009, Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology; U.S. National Women's Health Information Center (www.womenshealth.gov) Published on: January 03, 2010