ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Soybean Chemicals May Reduce Effects of Menopause
New Insights Show Ginseng Fights Inflammation
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Safe Toys for Dogs
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Rheumatoid Arthritis Hits Women Harder
More Faces Being Spared in Motor Vehicle Accidents
B Cells Can Act Alone in Autoimmune Diseases
CANCER
Papaya Could Be a Cancer Fighter
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
CAREGIVING
Study of Everest Climbers Questions Oxygen Use
Babies Born in High Pollen Months at Wheezing Risk
Medication Errors Could Be Cut: Experts
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
COSMETIC
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
DIABETES
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Weight Loss Might Not Curb Knee Arthritis
Myrrh May Lower High Cholesterol
Atkins Diet Tougher on Heart After Weight Loss
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Smog Standards Need Tightening, Activists Say
Cats Can Trigger Eczema in Some Infants
Rainy Areas in U.S. Show Higher Autism Rates
EYE CARE, VISION
Hybrid Cars Pose Risk to Blind, Visually Impaired
Cases of Age-Related Farsightedness to Soar
High Temps Degrade Contact Lens Solution: Study
FITNESS
Seniors Who Exercise Help Their Health
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
Brisk Walk Can Help Leave Common Cold Behind
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
What you need to know about swine flu.
Fructose Boosts Blood Pressure, Studies Find
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Omega-3, Some Omega-6 Fatty Acids Boost Cardiovascular Health
Risk Factor for Stroke More Common Among Whites
Fish Oil Supplements Help With Heart Failure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Family Medicine Cabinet Top Source Of Kid's Poisonings
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
Music May Temper Pain in Preemies
MEN'S HEALTH
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Countdown to Hair Loss
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
MENTAL HEALTH
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
Heal Your LifeŽ Tips for Living Well
17 Ways to Create the Perfect Workday
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
SENIORS
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Seniors Cope With Sleep Loss Better Than Young Adults
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
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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