nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Friday, January 14, 2011

So Breastfeeding For Six Months Is Harmful Now?

The issue is whether the World Health Organization's (WHO) to breast feed solely for six months, is the right guidance.

New evidence not available to the WHO in 2001, when the guidance was issued, suggests that the situation is more complex that originally thought.

Yes, breastfeeding protects against infection in the infant.  But, if you go six months, the risk of iron deficiency, food allergies, and celiac disease increase.

On the other hand, protection against infection is more important in developing countries, where sanitation is poor.

You can go to the UK's Guardian Life and Style blog (Jan 14) for a readable discussion of the issue.  The British Medical Journal (Jan 13) has the original commentary from the medical experts who are raising the questions.

Expect a flurry of controversy over the issue of reducing the six month time period, as breastfeeding advocates chime in. 

The good news is, even though the WHO guidance says six months of breast milk only, it's not common for mothers to make it to six months.  Infants commonly influence the process by needing more sustenance than can be provided, or express a desire for solid food.

I would tell mothers to use some common sense.  There's nothing magic about six months, and every infant is different.

Transition--gradually--as soon as the babies are ready, immunologically and nutritionally.

Doc D

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