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Breast is best for brownie points
New research published this week which found breastfeeding does not protect children against developing asthma or allergies came as no surprise to me.
Although I have no recollection of it, my mother reliably informs me I was breastfed, while my elder brother was not.
Who has suffered from eczema all their life? Not the sibling fed from the bottle but me, who according to current Department of Health literature on breastfeeding, should have had increased immunity from the condition.
I myself have breastfed two children, who are now aged four and two-and-three-quarters. The eldest began to show signs of eczema at the age of about six-months, while the youngest has so far, thankfully, enjoyed clear skin.
Who knows why this should be the case, but it was clear to me, even before this latest research was published in the British Medical Journal, breastfeeding does not provide automatic protection against such things.
Having said that, I would wholeheartedly advocate breastfeeding as a first choice for mums and babies. For me (and the children) it had numerous benefits which I would rank in the following order:
1. It is a great excuse to sit around for hours in the first few weeks just bonding with and enjoying the company of your new baby.
2. There can surely be no doubt that what mother nature has provided is the best for the health of mother and baby.
3. It is free and does not require endless work sterilising bottles, boiling kettles and measuring out formula and I found it comfortable to do no matter where I was (I know I was lucky in that respect and it is certainly not true for all women).
4. It burns that pregnancy weight off super-fast.
5. All those night feeds that only you can do earn you so many brownie points that, when your toddler is still waking in the middle of the night at the age of two, you don't have to feel guilty about pushing hubby out of bed to deal with it.
The researchers concluded that more work should be carried out to seek an explanation for the "recent epidemic of allergy and asthma".
I would second that - while eczema isn't life-threatening like asthma - it is a horrible condition that affects sufferers both physically and emotionally.
If someone could find a cure for it I would certainly crack open a bottle to celebrate.
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