The last few days a number of articles appeared in the news about the official US government's opposition to a WHO (World Health Organization) resolution supporting breastfeeding. Huh? Apparently this was because the US government decided that supporting formula companies was more important than the health of mothers and babies. The US government went so far as to threaten other countries if they supported the resolution.
Medical and scientific studies have clearly established that breast milk is best for a baby for numerous short and long-term health benefits. There are also health benefits to the mother from breastfeeding (e.g. lower incidence of breast and ovarian cancer, and type 2 diabetes). Of course there are many women who can't or won't breastfeed for various reasons (including they can't because of lack of maternity leave or support at their workplace) and their babies will drink infant formula and do well. But .... in general women should be encouraged to breastfeed because of the numerous health benefits, and they shouldn't just hear nonsense (e.g.lies) from infant formula companies. Below are links to articles explaining what happened in the US vs the WHO and other countries in the breastfeeding controversy, and some reasons why breast milk is better than formula.
But what these news articles didn't mention is another really important health benefit: mothers transmit hundreds of species of microbes to their babies in breast milk. Yes, hundreds of microbial species which help "seed" the infant's microbiome (microbial communities). [Some research posts: more than 700 species of bacteria in breast milk, and gut microbiota development,]
Excerpt from the New York Times: U.S. Opposition to Breast-Feeding Resolution Stuns World Health Officials
A resolution to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered this spring in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly. Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother’s milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.
Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations.
A prestigious medical journal editorial came out fully in support of breast milk and breastfeeding in 2016. From The Lancet: Breastfeeding: achieving the new normal
Breast milk makes the world healthier, smarter, and more equal: these are the conclusions of a new Lancet Series on breastfeeding. The deaths of 823 000 children and 20 000 mothers each year could be averted through universal breastfeeding, along with economic savings of US$300 billion. The Series confirms the benefits of breastfeeding in fewer infections, increased intelligence, probable protection against overweight and diabetes, and cancer prevention for mothers.