With increasingly busy lifestyles and more women working than ever before the trend has been for breast feeding to be seen as somewhat old fashioned. However, all the research available makes it clear that it is the very best start in life for a child as it helps develop their immune and protective systems with no risk of allergens.
Now new research is adding another element as Danish researchers have observed that babies who are breastfed for at least the first nine months are nearly half as likely to experience seizures than babies breastfed for only the first three months.
The team from the University of Aarhus School of Public Health looked at the early feeding habits of nearly 70,000 Danish children born between 1996 and 2000, whom they tracked until 2008. They asked mothers how long they breastfed their children, and whether or not those children experienced seizures after they were a year old.
Data indicated that the longer babies are breastfed, the less likely they are to experience seizures or develop epilepsy, the neurological condition marked by chronic seizures.
According to statistics, about one in 100 U.S. children have two or more seizures during their childhood. Those breastfed at least three months have a one in 135 chance of having seizures, while those breastfed over six months have a one in 150 chance. Those breastfed nine months or longer have a one in 200 chance, and the rate continues to drop the longer the duration of breastfeeding.
The unique nutrients and immune factors in a mother’s breast milk are vital for both the mental and physical development of a child. Malnourished babies are known to have a higher risk of seizures, including those that are fed formula rather than real breast milk. There simply is no replacement for the complete, natural baby food that is breast milk.
“The brain continues to develop for at least 16 years,” said Dr. Linda Friedman, associate professor of neuroscience at New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, encouraging the breastfeeding of babies for at least the first six months. “The first five years are most important for initial brain development.”