The Risks of Not Breastfeeding for Mothers and Infants
Alison Stuebe, MD, MSc
Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Fall; 2(4): 222–231.
Health outcomes in developed countries differ substantially for mothers and infants who formula feed compared with those who breastfeed. For infants, not being breastfed is associated with an increased incidence of infectious morbidity, as well as elevated risks of childhood obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, leukemia, and sudden infant death syndrome.
For mothers, failure to breastfeed is associated with an increased incidence of premenopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer, retained gestational weight gain, type 2 diabetes, myocardial infarction, and the metabolic syndrome. Obstetricians are uniquely positioned to counsel mothers about the health impact of breastfeeding and to ensure that mothers and infants receive appropriate, evidence-based care, starting at birth.
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