For centuries mothers have been feeding their children with breast milk. However, scientists have different opinions regarding the benefits and risks of breastfeeding to newborn babies.
It is vital, especially during the pandemic, to determine the risk of transmission of coronavirus from mother to infant through breastfeeding.
What Does Breast Milk Consist Of?
Breast milk, also referred to as mother’s milk is full of nutrients for newborn babies. It also contains antibodies and natural chemical substances that protect and enable the growth of the infant.
However, the composition of breast milk varies from individual to individual. To breastfeed or not is a personal matter. However, doctors advise feeding newborns for the first six months. A mother can give different vegetables and fruits to a six-month-old infant besides breastfeeding.
Breast milk constitutes millions of living cells, including white blood cells that boost immunity. Also, stem cells which help in the development and healing process of the body.
Breastfeeding delivers more than 1000 proteins, amino acids, over 200 oligosaccharides, more than 40 enzymes, and antibodies to the offspring. These are responsible for growth, immunity, healing mechanism, development of organs, inducing sleep, and proper digestion along with the absorption of nutrients.
Breast milk also contains growth factors, hormones, vitamins, long-chain fatty acids, 1400 microRNAs, and many other substances. The composition of breast milk makes it ideal for the development, growth, and functioning of the body.
Breastfeeding is essential for newborn babies between the ages of 1-6 months old.
How Exactly Is Breastfeeding Benefiting the Mother and Her Baby?
A Mother’s milk is a full meal for the newborn baby. It provides the essential elements for the growth, protection, and development of biological systems. It enables the baby to fight viruses and bacteria and avoid infections. Studies show that breast milk is related to attaining higher IQ scores later in age. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that breastfeeding lowers the risk of diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers.
Adding to it, it prevents SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) to some extent.
Being a mother breastfeeding can benefit you as well. Breastfeeding burns extra calories. It enables you to lose weight at a faster rate after pregnancy.
Breastfeeding lowers the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. It also reduces your risk of developing osteoporosis. Breast milk is also economical and saves time. It enables you to give regular time to your child.
Breastfeeding and COVID-19
During the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, concerns regarding the benefits and risks of breastfeeding have risen. The researchers at Washington State University are conducting a nationwide study on COVID-19 and infant feeding.
To understand the transmission of COVID_19 and its antibodies from mother to infant via breastfeeding. This study will consist of 50 participants. These participants will be mothers of age 18 or over who have infants up to two years old and have a positive COVID-19 test report.
Twenty-five of these participants breastfed their babies. Meanwhile, the other 25 did not. The study ran for two months.
Courtney Meehan is a professor of anthropology at WSU College of Arts and Science. According to Courtney Meehan, short-scale research indicates mixed results.
She reports that some studies show viral-RNA strains transmit from mother to baby. However, other samples show no sign of such transmission. She also said that without evidence of transmission of such viral-RNA strains, separating the mother from her infant is not a suggestion.
According to Courtney, their study will provide evidence that will help design policies for breastfed moms and babies. Their research will compare outcomes between COVID-19 infected moms with breastfed and non-breastfed babies.