There are many arguments for and against breastfeeding, but it all comes down to mothers wanting what's best for their baby. And thanks to more research, we have information to make pros and cons for each side.
We know that breast milk enhances the little one's immune system, reduces the risk of obesity, and about 21 other things. But now, reports say that breastfeeding slashes risk of your baby having leukemia, a cancer that hurts the body's ability to fight infection.
A new report published in JAMA Pediatrics gathered multiple studies on breastfeeding and leukemia, and found a trend. Multiple studies found that it lowers the baby's risk of getting the cancer.
One instance found that breastfeeding for six months or more could lower a baby's risk of childhood leukemia by 19 percent. A meta-analysis of 15 studies found that, between mothers who breastfeed and mothers who don't, the breastfed babies had a 11 percent lower risk of childhood leukemia, according to the report.
So, how does breast milk do this?
According to researchers, the milk has components that help develop the baby's immune system and has anti-inflammatory defense mechanisms. This leads to the baby getting stem cells and good microbes.
"The many potential preventive health benefits of breastfeeding should also be communicated openly to the general public, not only to mothers, so breastfeeding can be more socially accepted and facilitated," write the authors of the study.
"In addition, more high-quality studies are needed to clarify the biological mechanisms underlying this association between breastfeeding and lower childhood leukemia morbidity."
Social acceptance for breastfeeding still needs to be improved, since it's still hard for mothers to find places to breastfeed. But this is great news.