“Breastfeeding supports optimum growth, development and health, and also ensures better future health for infants and their mothers. Breastfeeding exclusively provides complete nutrition for around the first 6 months of life for the vast majority of infants. After this, complementary foods are needed along with breast milk to meet the infant’s growing nutritional needs. Breastfeeding continues to provide significant nutritional and health benefits up to 2 years of age or older”
(Food Safety Authority of Ireland, 2012).
“Infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life, and thereafter continue to be breastfed in combination with suitably nutritious complementary foods for up to two years of age or beyond. This practice is the safest and best way of ensuring that babies achieve optimal growth, health and development”
(Department of Health and Children 2005).
Breastfeeding Protects the Health of Mothers and their Babies
Breastfeeding helps protect the health of babies in the short and long-term:
- May help protect babies from illnesses (such as ear infections1, gastroenteritis2), diabetes (types 13 and 24), asthma5 and overweight/obesity6
- May help reduce the risk or infection7
- Breastfeeding is associated with a reduction in necrotising enterocolitis8-9 and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)10
- Breastmilk is delivered in the perfect form and at the correct temperature for babies
- Breastfeeding strengthens the unique bond between mother and baby
Breastfeeding helps protect the health of mothers in the short and long-term
- Decreased post-partum bleeding and more rapid uterine contractions11
- May be protective against breast cancer13 and risk of developing ovarian14 cancer
- Contributes to the development of the mother-baby bond
- Economic benefits
Breastfeeding Support Websites
The HSE has developed a very comprehensive breastfeeding support website for both mothers and healthcare professionals. Within the website you will find factsheets, research and reports specifically designed for healthcare professionals. Please see the link below to this fantastic resource.
Other useful breastfeeding supports websites include:
- McNeil ME et al., (2010). Breastfeed Rev. 18(2):25-32.
- Plenge-Bonig A et al., (2010). Eur J Pediatr. 169(12):1471-6.
- James DC, Lessen R and American Dietetic Institute (2009). J Am Diet Assoc. 109(11):1926-42.
- Owen CG et al., (2006). Am J Clin Nutr, 88(2):305-14.
- Oddy WH. (2004). J Asthma, 41(6):605-21.
- Horta BL et al. (2006) Acta Paediatr, 95(3):325-31.
- Talayero et al, (2006). Pediatrics, 2006 Jul;118(1):e92-9
- Arslanoglu S et al. (2010), J Perinat Med, 38(4):347-51.
- ESPGHAN Committee on Nutrition: Agostoni C et al., (2010). J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 50(1):85-91.
- Stuebe A (2009). Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2(4):222-31.
- King J (2007). J Midwifery Womens Health, 52(6):614-20.
- Zheng T et al., (2001). Br J Cancer, 84(11):1472-6.
- Tung KH et al., (2001). Am J Epidemiol, 161(4):321
- Tung KH et al., (2001). Am J Epidemiol, 161(4):321-9.