ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Awareness of Alternative Therapies May Be Lacking
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
Music Therapy For Prehistoric Man?
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Barefoot Lifestyle Has Its Dangers
Alcohol Abuse Can Damage Bones
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
CANCER
Many Ignore Symptoms of Bladder Trouble
Tanning Beds Shown To Raise Cancer Risk, Study Says
Multiple Screening Strategy Boosts Cervical Cancer Detection
CAREGIVING
MRSA Infections Spreading to Kids in Community
Older Caregivers Prone to Worse Sleep Patterns
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
DENTAL, ORAL
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
DIABETES
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating in America Still Unhealthy
Even in 'Last Supper,' Portion Sizes Have Grown
Meat Additives May Be Dangerous for Kidney Patients
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Hurricane Threats: Time to Batten Down the Hatches
Exposure to 9/11 Fumes Tied to Chronic Headaches
Air Pollution May Cause Appendicitis: Study Reveals
EYE CARE, VISION
Too Much Sun, Too Few Antioxidants Spell Eye Trouble
Hybrid Cars Pose Risk to Blind, Visually Impaired
Brain Adapts to Age-Related Eye Disease
FITNESS
School Phys. Ed. Injuries Up 150 Percent
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
Sleep and Do Better
Eating Lots Of Vegetables, Olive Oil May Extend Life
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
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
A Little Chocolate May Do the Heart Good
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
3 Home Habits Help Youngsters Stay Slim
Scorpion Anti-Venom Speeds Children's Recovery
Teen Stress May Have Roots in First Three Years of Life
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Countdown to Hair Loss
MENTAL HEALTH
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
SENIORS
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
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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