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More than two decades of research have established that breast milk is perfectly suited to nourish infants and protect them from illness. Breast-fed infants have lower rates of hospital admissions, ear infections, diarrhea, rashes, allergies, and other medical problems than bottle-fed babies.
“There are 4,000 species of mammals, and they all make a different milk. Human milk is made for human infants, and it meets all their specific nutrient needs,” says Ruth Lawrence, M.D., professor of pediatrics and obstetrics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine in Rochester, N.Y., and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Health experts say increased breast-feeding rates would save consumers money, spent both on infant formula and in health-care dollars. It could save lives as well.
“We’ve known for years that the death rates in Third World countries are lower among breast-fed babies,” says Lawrence. “Breast-fed babies are healthier and have fewer infections than formula-fed babies.”
Although breast-feeding is still the best nourishment for infants, infant formula is a close enough second that babies not only survive but thrive.