ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Indian Spice May Thwart Liver Damage
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Vitamin K Doesn't Slow Bone Loss
Hip Replacement Boosts Mobility at Any Age
A Winning Strategy to Beat Spring Sporting Injuries
CANCER
U.S. Reported 25,000 Cases of HPV-Related Cancers Annually
Many Ignore Symptoms of Bladder Trouble
Selenium, Omega-3s May Stave Off Colorectal Cancer
CAREGIVING
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome as Deadly as Ever
Diabetes Epidemic Now Poses Challenges for Nursing Homes
Coordination Has Led to Quicker Heart Treatment
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Smog Tougher on the Obese
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
DIABETES
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Fasting on Alternate Days May Make Dieting Easier
Six Healthy-Sounding Foods That Really Aren't
Red Meat No No No But Oily Fish Yes Yes Yes
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Global Warming May Bring More Respiratory Woes
Hypertension May Hit Black Males Earlier
Chemicals in Carpets, Non-Stick Pans Tied to Thyroid Disease
EYE CARE, VISION
Music Can Help Restore Stroke Patients' Sight
Cases of Age-Related Farsightedness to Soar
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
FITNESS
Simple Exercise Precautions To Help Keep Baby Boomers Fit
Run for Your Life
Super Bowl Loss Can 'Kill' Some Fans
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
Adults Need To Get Thier Food Facts Straight
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
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
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Fondness for Fish Keeps Japanese Hearts Healthy
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
Time to Remind Teens About Sun Protection
Boosting Kids' Stroke IQ May Save Lives
MEN'S HEALTH
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Chocolate a Sweet Pick-Me-Up for the Depressed
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
SENIORS
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Natural Childbirth Moms More Attuned to Babies' Cry
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
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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