Breastfeeding: Up to What Age Should Take Only Breast Milk?

The optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding is six months and not four, as some suggest items

The optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding for years is the subject of heated discussion scientist. The intensity of the debate increases at times following the incessant publication of studies linking early onset of cereals with gluten in the baby’s diet with a lower risk of celiac disease. Some justified, based on these studies, the ideal is to incorporate gluten four months baby, if it is still better to breastfeed. This text explains what exclusive breastfeeding, which agencies they recommend up to six months old and why, while unravels the fundamentals of controversy.

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Exclusive Breastfeeding: what it is and who Recommended

It is understood as “exclusive breastfeeding” to the non – inclusion of foods other than breast milk in the baby’s diet, whether solid or liquid, and that includes the water. Although vitamins, minerals or drugs are prescribed, it is considered that the baby is still exclusively breastfed.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended at its 54th World Assembly, held in 2001, babies were breastfed exclusively for 6 months, a position that the body has not changed today and supported rigorous scientific research published in 2002, 2003 and 2004. So did, in March 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which published a document maternal -‘Lactation and use of milk Human’-, which issued the following statement: “The American Academy of Pediatrics reaffirms its recommendation to breastfeed infants exclusively for the first 6 months, continue breastfeeding while incorporating complementary foods and continue breastfeeding for 1 year or more, as mother and child wish.”

Five months later, in August 2012, the prestigious journal The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews published a comprehensive review on this subject, whose main conclusion was that babies exclusively breastfed for six months do not show deficits in growth or development, both in developed countries and in developing countries, so there will be no apparent risks in recommending, as a general policy, such a practice. It was also concluded that this practice is associated with a lower rate of gastrointestinal infections in infants, besides asserting that “helps the mother lose weight and prevent pregnancy.”

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The Controversy over Exclusive Breastfeeding

However, as pointed out at the beginning, recent research linking early onset of cereals with gluten in the baby’s diet with a lower risk of this suffering celiac disease. There are entities that justify, based on these studies, incorporating gluten four months of the baby. It is a very controversial recommendation if one considers that the American Academy of Pediatrics, in the document cited above, considers that:

It breastfeed exclusively for more than four months is associated with a decrease of 72% in the risk of hospitalization for infections of the lower respiratory tract during the first year of baby’s life.

Babies exclusively breastfed until 6 months have four times less risk of pneumonia compared with those who are exclusively breastfed until 4 months only.

That is why proved very pertinent systematic review conducted in April 2013 by researchers at the Department of Food and Nutrition at the University of Umea, Sweden. In his research, entitled ‘Breastfeeding, addition of other foods and health effects’, a detailed analysis of (among other things) the risks and benefits of incorporating gluten four months is performed, as well as other aspects with celiac disease, based on the latest scientific studies on the subject. Their findings are as follows:

Breastfeeding protects babies from celiac disease if food with gluten are incorporated, in small amounts, while the baby is being breast-fed, although it is not clear whether the protection only delay the onset of celiac disease or provides protection permanent. This strategy could protect also of type 1 diabetes.

There is no scientific evidence to determine the ideal to incorporate gluten in the diet of infants age.

There is no strong evidence to support that incorporate foods between 4 and 6 months old child brings benefits to your health.

In short, the recommendation issued in 2001 by the WHO is equally valid today: “breast feed your child exclusively until 6 months”.

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