Response to Study that Benefits of Breastfeeding have been overstated

April 24, 2015
Cindy Galloway

A new study published in the journal Social Science & Medicine suggested that some of the benefits of breastfeeding have been overstated. The study used sibling comparisons to estimate the effect of breastfeeding on long-term BMI/obesity, asthma, hyperactivity, attachment, compliance, and academic achievement and competence. Significant media attention surrounding the study has resulted in inaccurate and incomplete reporting on the proven impact of breastfeeding on public health, prompting responses from around the globe, including from the:
“Reports on breastfeeding sibling study are vastly overstated” from Physicians on the Breastfeeding Medicine Blog. The biggest problem with this conclusion is that the study ignored anything that happened in these families before their children reached the age of 4, disregarding well-established links between ear infections, pneumonia, vomiting and diarrhea and the amount of human milk a baby receives. There’s strong biological evidence for these relationships, because formula lacks the antibodies and other immune factors in breast milk that block bacteria from binding to the infant gut and airway. For preterm infants, formula exposure raises rates of necrotizing enterocolitis, a devastating and often deadline complication of prematurity. And evidence continues to mount that formula feeding increases risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Furthermore, mothers who don’t breastfeed face higher rates of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart attacks. None of these outcomes were addressed by the recent sibling study.

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