Stories about: breast feeding

Online breast milk sales: There’s no such thing as a (bacteria)-free lunch

By Larry Rhein, MD, Division of Newborn Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital

All pediatricians can agree that breast milk is the best food for infants. But sometimes, parents are unable to provide breast milk on their own. To fill this void, a new secondary market has developed where mothers who can produce additional breast milk do so and sell it online.

But selling breast milk for feeding infants is different than selling used baby clothes or toys; food has to meet minimum safety standards.

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Can breastfeeding for longer make a child smarter?

There are many scientific studies showing that breastfeeding offers health benefits to infants. Many of these reports focus on tangible benefits, like breast milk’s ability to help babies ward off allergies or reduce their risk of developing gastrointestinal issues. But quality research demonstrating how breastfeeding can affect an infant’s brain has been far more difficult to produce. Previous studies on the topic have made connections, but they didn’t account for many other factors that influence a child’s development, like his mother’s intelligence, socioeconomic status, home environment during key developmental milestones or if he was raised with homecare vs. daycare.

In addition, many of these studies focused only on whether baby was “ever breastfed” or “never breastfed.” By ignoring an entire population of children raised on both breast milk and formula—or researching how much time they spent receiving either— these studies fail to truly define the potential role breastfeeding plays in a child’s future cognitive development.

To better explore the issue, researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital’s Division of Newborn Medicine recently conducted a study on the possible ways breast milk and intelligence are related, while accounting for several of the factors ignored in other studies. In doing so, the team has produced the most complete analysis of the subject to date.

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What do you think of the breastfeeding baby doll?

Claire McCarthy, MD

Have you heard about the breastfeeding doll from Spain?

I was really happy to hear about it. I am a strong supporter of breastfeeding, both as a pediatrician and a mom; I breastfed all of my children, the last three until they were between three and four years old. Yet despite all this exposure to breastfeeding, my kids only wanted to give their dolls bottles. “Don’t you want to nurse your baby?” I’d say to them, and they’d look at me like I had three heads.

I read about it in a blog that included a video of a little girl playing with it. Eager to see how it worked, I watched the video.

I was totally creeped out.

 

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Shades of gray: Why medicine isn’t always as clear-cut as we’d like

Claire McCarthy, MD

Recently I wrote a blog about how the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks that otherwise healthy children with ear infections should wait a couple of days before starting antibiotics, because many will get better without them.

Now there are two articles in the New England Journal of Medicine (here and here) saying that children with ear infections who are given antibiotics are more likely to get better, and to get better quickly, than those who aren’t.

Awkward.

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