A new Norwegian study is causing controversy after claiming that breast-fed babies are only slightly healthier than bottle-fed babies — and that it has nothing to do with milk. Instead, says professor Sven Carlsen of Norwegian University of Science and Technology, a child’s health is predetermined in the mother’s womb and based on hormone levels. In the following blog post, Dr. Tanya Altmann responds to the study's findings:By Dr. Tanya Altmann, author of “Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents Top 101 Questions About Babies and Toddlers” While this study is interesting in that it stresses the importance of prenatal influences on a baby’s future health, it flows against the tide of countless studies that show the benefits of breast-feeding. We know that proper nutrition, including prenatal vitamins, is important for a healthy baby. This study claims that a mom’s hormone levels during pregnancy play an important role (and possibly the most important role) in a baby’s future health. I think this does provide new insight for future studies on what makes for an optimal environment inside the womb and am curious about further information on whether lifestyle changes can influence this perfect hormone balance, or is it simply genetic?
This study seems to downplay the importance of proper nutrition after birth, which is just as critical as during pregnancy. The benefits of breast-feeding have been well documented in numerous studies. Mother’s milk provides immunity against infections, is easiest for a baby to digest, uncommon for a baby to be allergic to and is less expensive than formula feeding. Breast-fed babies have fewer ear, respiratory tract and diarrheal infections. They are also at lower risk for many childhood diseases such as asthma, diabetes and obesity. Breast-feeding also has many health benefits for mom including a decreased future risk of cancer and diabetes as well as a faster return to pre-pregnancy weight. For these reasons and many more, the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as other national and international health organizations continues to recommend breast-feeding as the optimal source of nutrition for a baby. Related content:Is breast-feeding really best?