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How breastfeeding helps to increase immunity in pandemic situation?

Breastfeeding has a host of benefits for both, the baby and mother. Did you know? Breastfeeding tends to build the child’s immune system and keeps allergies and infections at bay. It is the most easily available immunity booster for your child younger than 2 years. We are realising importance of immunity during this pandemic more than even before. Here, we tell you why breastfeeding is the need of the hour during this pandemic situation.

Do you breastfeed your baby? Breast milk has a plethora of health benefits. Breast milk carries all the essential nutrients including proteins, sugar, and fat that your baby needs for optimal growth. Along with the essential nutrients, breastmilk contains, DHA, Nucleic acids and plethora of other essential fatty acids that help in brain growth and in turn helps childs motor development and improve intelligence of the child. For a child in the first 6 months, breastmilk is complete nutrition, meaning that, the child doesn’t need anything else, not even water. World Health Organization (WHO) and many peak professional bodies strongly recommend exclusive breastfeeding for a child younger than 6 month in age. For a child older than 6 months, along with breastmilk, child should receive age appropriate solid foods. It is recommended that breastfeeding should continue till at least age 2 years along with other for your child. 

Along with physical growth and brain development, breastmilk plays very important role in development of child’s immunity. Breast milk carries immunoglobulins (proteins that fight infection), white blood cells and many other immunity enhancers. 

Know how breastfeeding is vital in developing the immune system of the baby
  • It is obvious that if the mother is suffering from common cold while she is breastfeeding, the baby may catch the virus. But, it is important to realise that the antibodies that are present in the breast milk to fight common cold are also passed on to the baby while breastfeeding. These antibodies boost the baby’s immune system to defend against the germs and will possibly help the child to keep cold at bay. 
  • IgA is the main type of antibody that is present in breast milk and tends to protect the internal surfaces of the body, such as the mouth, stomach, intestines and lungs. These antibodies are not digested by the baby. Instead, they coat the gut and block the entry of infections that invite illnesses. 
  • Furthermore, breastfeeding can also reduce your baby’s chances of suffering ear infections, pneumonia, and urinary tract infections.
  • Breast milk is loaded with many things that help’s your baby build immunity. Proteins, fats, sugars, and cells that work against infections when she breastfeeds her baby (e.g. antibodies, white blood cells, lactoferrin, lysozyme, oligosaccharides, probiotics, and prebiotics).
  • Breastfeeding can also lower the chances of your baby suffering from other illnesses such as ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea or urinary tract infections and lower respiratory tract infections 
  • Human milk induces an infant’s immune system to mature quickly than feeding the child artificially.
  • Breastmilk also helps in development of normal healthy bacterial flora in intestine; in turn, reducing chances of infection in the child
  • Studies have shown that if the baby is receiving appropriate breastfeeding, chances of ear infection, loose motions, pneumonia and other bacterial/ viral infections are less in the baby. 
  • It is recommended even in this COVID era, if mother is suffering from COVID, baby should receive benefit of breastfeeding while maintaining appropriate, barrier / mask precautions, mother should breastfeed the baby. 
  • Benefits for the mother: Breastfeeding helps mother to get rid of excess fat and weight gain that has happened during pregnancy. Breastfeeding lowers their the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol in mother. Breastfeeding reduces chances of breast cancer in mother. 
Due to this host of benefits of breastfeeding to mother and baby, it is strongly recommended that babies, less that 6 months, should receive exclusive breastfeeding. For babies bigger that 6 months, along with age appropriate food items, baby should continue to receive breastfeeding at least upto age 2 years. 

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