Monday, September 15, 2008


It is universally accepted that mother's milk is best for the baby due to many reasons. It helps to bond the mother and the baby. The immunity conferred on the baby by mother's milk is unparalleled. The low curd tension in the GI tract of the baby obviates uneasiness and stomach pains. The bifidus bacteria provides protection against stomach infections. Experts recommend postponing feeding with cows milk or formulated infant foods as long as possible to derive maximum benefits from nature's bounty conferred on every mother on child birth. The recent reports of Bis phenol A (BPA), a toxic chemical used in polycarbonate feeding bottles, getting leached out into milk make it all the more imperative to feed the infants with mother's milk.

There are instances when mothers are not able to provide the milk to their children necessitating bottle feeding. The recent findings indicate that when the baby cries there is an increased surge of activity in a broad range of brain regions, including the amygdala which is known to play a role in governing emotional states. This may increase her ability to produce more milk to meet the needs of the baby adequately. The old saying that 'only crying baby gets milk' may yet be true scientifically.Birth, other than natural, alters significantly the neurohormonal experience of natural birth that creates intense bonding. Mothers undergoing C-section delivery invariably finds it difficult to experience this bonding and that is why doctors recommend fondling of the new borns by the mother, immediately after the operation by cuddling against their skin. This probably serves the purpose of establishing bonding and feeling the need for mothers to feed their babies.

Another aspect which has caught the attention of the scientists is the influence of mother's milk on the development of the palate in their children. Those who eat variety foods with different flavors and taste tend to pass on these traits to the infants through their milk as the latter get tuned to the diverse foods more easily and during the growth phase continue to enjoy consuming these foods. Many flavors have been found to be transferred in small quantities to the baby through the milk thus exposing it to new taste sensations. Bottle fed babies never have this opportunity as the formula milk products are bland in taste with practically no variations Probably infant food industry might come out with flavored products if these findings confirmed by further studies. It is believed that breast feeding primes the infants to accept more readily new flavors when they start on their solid foods. Israel scientists claim that people who were fed mothers' milk when they were babies lived without significant incidence of heart attack while in UK higher IQ and societal achievements are being attributed to breast fed babies when they grow into adults.

In spite of the above rosy picture, there are instances when mother's milk does cause problems to new born infants. Lactose intolerance some time temporarily makes milk unacceptable, alternative being formulated milk mostly based on soybean. Many babies experience dehydration after feeding on breast milk and such situations can even be fatal to the baby when it crosses the critical mark of 10% weight loss. Precise cause is still not known though such babies had high sodium content in their blood after feeding on mother's milk, beyond 150 milliequivalent. The mothers' milk also was found to be high in sodium content though what causes such aberrations is not clear.


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