Disclaimer: I do not have a baby.
Second disclaimer: I know nothing about breastfeeding or formula milk.
But what I do know is that two obstetricians from Singapore General Hospital (SGH) think that babies who are breastfed are ‘slightly more intelligent’ than those who are fed formula.
This was reported by The Straits Times.
The list doesn’t end there though, because apparently, they are also less prone to getting infections and will have a lower risk of obesity and diabetes when they’re older.
“Widespread Perception By Physicians & The Public That Infant Formula Is The Preferred Choice”
If you’re wondering what compelled them to share this piece of information it’s this:
According to them, there is a “widespread perception by physicians and the public alike that infant formula is the preferred choice in infant feeding”.
All this was revealed in the Annals, which is a journal of the Academy of Medicine. Its members are usually specialists like Associate Professor Yong Tze Tein, who heads obstetrics and gynaecology at SGH.
With all that said, they probably know what they’re talking about. And because they’re good-hearted people and want others to know the real deal about breastfeeding.
“Significant Health Risks Associated With Not Breastfeeding”
The doctors mentioned that there is inaccurate information regarding breastfeeding floating around the internet, which leads to a negative self-fulfilling prophecy:
“When inappropriate advice is given to supplement the perceived low supply of breast milk with infant formula, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy since it reduces the frequency of breast emptying and, consequently, milk production.”
According to them, mothers should also be aware that “there are significant health risks associated with not breastfeeding”.
Benefits Of Breast Milk That Can’t Be Found In Formula
So this is probably the segment you’ve been waiting for and why you even clicked on the article in the first place:
There seems to be a long list of breast milk benefits that cannot be found in breast milk.
- Breast milk offers a wide range of immunologically active substances and provides the baby with greater amount of protection against infections of the lung, gut and ears.
- Babies who are fed formula face longer-term health risks, which includes a higher risk of getting diabetes and cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
- Babies who are fed formulas have intelligence quotients (IQs) that are three points lower than breastfed babies.
30 Year Study Found Breastfed Babies Had Higher IQs, Better Education & Higher Paying Jobs
There was a study published in the British medical journal The Lancet on 3,500 babies.
The study, which lasted for a whopping 30 years from 1982 found that those who had been breastfed for a year or more had IQs that were 3.76 points higher, more education and better-paying jobs than those who had a month or less of breastfeeding.
It’s not just the babies who benefited though. The study found that mothers experienced less post-partum bleedings.
And a woman who has breastfed for more than a year is a third less likely to get ovarian cancer compared with a woman who has never breastfed.
How Long Should Babies Be Breastfed?
Apparently, the “minimum ideal” is six months, though natural weaning usually occurs between the ages of two and four years.
Health Promotion Board conducted a study back in 2011 found that less than 1% of mothers were exclusively breastfeeding their babies for at least six months.
This was compared to the global average is 38%.
The SGH doctors also want society to support mothers who breastfeed and stop seeing “breasts as purely sexual, rather than nutritive organs”.