Using a subset of data from a larger study, the researchers analyzed 80 people between the ages of 10 and 21 with type 2 diabetes, who were matched with 167 “controls” who did not have diabetes.
The breastfeeding rate was lower among people with type 2 diabetes, compared with the control group. Specifically:
- Among African Americans, only 20 percent of those with type 2 diabetes had been breastfed, compared to 27 percent in the control group.
- Among Hispanics, 50 percent of the diabetes group was breastfed, compared with 84 percent of the control group.
- Among whites, 39 percent of the diabetes group was breastfed, compared with 78 percent of the control group.
Encouraging breastfeeding in groups at high risk of type 2 diabetes may be useful, the researchers said. Breast milk is the perfect food for a newborn baby; it is made by nature and absolutely nothing has been overlooked. For a newborn, one of the biggest benefits is that breast milk transfers antibodies, or immune molecules, to your baby that give them automatic immunity to illnesses that the mother is immune to. This is just what a new baby, whose immune system is not yet mature, needs.
Another quite remarkable benefit of breast milk is that the opposite also holds true. So if your baby is exposed to a new infection the organism will get transferred to the mother via breastfeeding, and the mother will make antibodies to fight the germ. Those specific antibodies then get transferred back to your baby at the next feeding thus improving their immune response.
The Benefits of Breastfeeding are Seemingly Endless -- For Baby AND Mom
Along with the added protection against type 2 diabetes, studies have found that breastfed infants have extra protection against:
- Heart disease
- Immune system cancers such as lymphoma
- Bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease
- Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
- Asthma and allergies
- Respiratory infections
- Type 1 diabetes
On top of that, breastfeeding is a mutually beneficial experience for moms and babies. In fact, women who breastfeed have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers and osteoporosis later in life. They are also able to return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster (breastfeeding uses up about 500 calories a day!).
What are Your Rights as a Breastfeeding Mom?
Despite the undeniable benefits, in the United States breastfeeding is still not as widely accepted as it should be. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among infants born in 2004 (the most recent data available):
- 74% were ever breastfed
- 42% were still breastfeeding at 6 months of age
- 21% were breastfeeding at 1 year of age
- 31% were exclusively breastfed through 3 months of age
- 11% were exclusively breastfed through 6 months of age
Even the CDC states, "Compared with breastfeeding combined with formula feeding, exclusive breastfeeding provides more protection against lower respiratory tract infections, acute otitis media [ear infections], atopic dermatitis [skin irritation], and childhood obesity."
There are, of course, hurdles for many women who would like to breastfeed exclusively, particularly since not all workplaces and public areas are as open to it as they should be.
Which is why, if you are a woman who wishes to breastfeed, you must know your rights.
As of January 2008, the National Conference of State Legislatures states that 39 states have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location. These states are:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Wyoming
- 21 states exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws
- 14 states have laws that address breastfeeding in the workplace
- 12 states exempt breastfeeding mothers from jury duty
So please do not assume that you are not “allowed” to breastfeed in public or at work. In most states, it is actually against the law to try to prohibit you from this natural act.
If you want to give your child the best start nutritionally, ideally you will breastfeed exclusively for the first six months. Breastfeeding should then be continued at least for the first year, and The World Health Organization recommends continued breastfeeding until your child is 2 years old or older.
For Moms Who Can’t Breastfeed
As natural as breastfeeding is, a small percentage of women are unable to breastfeed due to physical reasons. This can be an extremely emotional issue, as many women then feel they have “failed” their child in this way. But in no way should you ever blame yourself for an inability to breastfeed.
New moms who are experiencing difficulty breastfeeding can first contact a lactation consultant to rule out any problems with positioning or routine that may be interfering. If, however, you are simply unable to breastfeed, remember that you are still doing the best you can for your child.
As for what to feed in place of breast milk, AVOID all soy infant formulas. Instead, the best option is to make your own homemade infant formula using this specific recipe.