AsianScientist (Dec. 19, 2016) – New moms are increasingly using expressed breast milk (either pumped or expressed by hand) instead of directly breastfeeding their babies, according to a study published in Public Health Nutrition.
The study also found that moms who use expressed breast milk typically transition their babies to infant formula feeding sooner than their breastfeeding peers, a trend that may impact the health of our next generation.
“Breast feeding is the unequalled method for feeding infants,” said study co-author Marie Tarrant, a professor at the University of British Columbia. “It has been previously determined that breastfeeding is important for the nutrition, immunology, growth and development of infants and toddlers. Anything that contributes to shortening the recommended six months of exclusive breastfeeding is a concern.”
Tarrant and her research team, including co-author Dr. Dorothy Bai of the University of Hong Kong, studied the infant feeding practices of more than 2,000 moms living in Hong Kong. They found that during a five-year stretch, mothers moved away from directly breastfeeding their infants to using expressed breast milk, which is usually delivered via a bottle.
“New mothers may believe there is no difference between expressed breast-milk feeding and direct feeding at the breast,” says Tarrant. “Although expressed breast-milk feeding provides greater benefits than infant formula, bottle-feeding may increase the risk of respiratory issues, asthma, rapid weight gain and oral diseases.”
The study demonstrated that those moms who expressed breast milk were more likely to quit breastfeeding earlier than moms who directly breastfed.
Tarrant believes that a lack of breastfeeding support may be partly to blame for this feeding behavior. She suggests that providing greater access to professional lactation (breastfeeding) support to new mothers, particularly in the first 24 hours after birth, could ensure that new infants receive the optimal nutrition.
The article can be found at: Bai et al. (2016) Practices, Predictors and Consequences of Expressed Breast-milk Feeding in Healthy Full-term Infants.
Source: University of British Columbia Okanagan; Photo: Shutterstock.
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