The Role of Infant Breastfeeding and Lifespan / Life Expectancy

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Breastfeeding is a natural and essential process for newborns, providing them with the perfect balance of nutrients for their growth and development[1]. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, with continued breastfeeding (along with appropriate complementary meals) for up to two years or beyond[2]. In this blog post, we will explore the role of infant breastfeeding in relation to lifespan and life expectancy and address some frequently asked questions.

Benefits of Breastfeeding for Infants

Breastfed babies experience numerous short- and long-term health benefits. Some of these benefits include:

  • Fewer ear and respiratory illnesses[1]
  • Lower risk of developing allergies or asthma[1]
  • Reduced risk of obesity, type 1 diabetes, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) [3]
  • Lower likelihood of ear infections and stomach bugs[3]
  • Improved cognitive development[4]
  • Reduced incidence of immune-related diseases (e.g., Type-1 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease) [4]
  • Lower risk of childhood cancers[4]

Breast milk also contains essential enzymes and antibodies that protect the baby’s digestive and immune systems[1]. These antibodies help babies develop a robust immune system and protect them from illnesses[3].

Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mothers

Breastfeeding also offers significant emotional and health benefits for mothers. Some of these benefits include:

  • Strengthened emotional bond with the baby[1]
  • Reduced risk of premenopausal breast cancer and ovarian cancer[1]
  • Assistance in losing “baby weight”[1]
  • Reduced risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol[1]

Breastfeeding and Lifespan / Life Expectancy

While many factors influence life expectancy, such as genetics, living conditions, and lifestyle choices, research suggests that breastfeeding can promote a longer life for both mothers and their children[5]. For instance, a study published in The Lancet found that lifetime total breastfeeding duration was associated with a lower subsequent risk of all-cause mortality in a non-linear manner[6].

Moreover, the cost of not breastfeeding has been estimated at 694,322 lives lost annually and economic losses of US$341.3 billion[7]. This further highlights the importance of breastfeeding for the overall health and well-being of both mothers and their children.

People Also Ask

Q: Can breastfeeding help you live longer?

A: Research suggests that breastfeeding can contribute to a longer life for mothers and their children[5]. Breastfeeding provides numerous health benefits that can reduce the risk of various diseases and conditions, which may promote a longer life.

Q: What are the long-term effects of breastfeeding on mothers?

A: Some long-term effects of breastfeeding on mothers include a reduced risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol[1][8].

Q: Are there psychological effects of breastfeeding on children and mothers?

A: Yes, breastfeeding has been shown to impact children’s brain, cognitive, and socio-emotional development[9]. In mothers, breastfeeding can influence mood, affect, stress, and maternal care[9].

In conclusion, breastfeeding is crucial in promoting infants’ and mothers’ health and well-being. The numerous benefits of breastfeeding contribute to a longer and healthier life for both parties, emphasizing the importance of supporting and encouraging breastfeeding practices.


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