Breastfeeding has long been known to positively impact the health and immune systems of babies, but now new research is uncovering the power of breastfeeding in helping to prevent long term illnesses including asthma, allergies, celiac disease, Type 1 diabetes and obesity.

The New York Times reports that many studies have strongly suggested that the trillions of microorganisms that inhabit the human body influence our current and future health and may account for the rising incidence of several serious medical conditions.

Breastfeeding exclusively for six months enhances the kinds and amounts of beneficial bacteria that inhabit an infant’s gut.

Dr. Suchitra Hourigan, a pediatric gastroenterologist and director of the Inova Translational Medicine Institute in Falls Church, Va. told the Times that breastfeeding is the best and safest way to expose babies born by cesarean to their mother’s bacteria. "Breast milk contains many of the same beneficial bacteria found in a woman’s vagina, and breastfeeding infants are less likely than those consuming formula to develop respiratory and gastrointestinal infections and allergies as well as chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity and inflammatory bowel disease."

Dr Stephanie Canale MD, founder of Lactation Lab, advocates breastfeeding for as long as possible and notes that it is also important to ensure that breast milk is as nutritious and safe as it can be. To that end, she has developed a test kit that measures the nutritional value of breast milk and checks for excessive levels of toxins. "There's so much we're still learning about the incredible potential of breastmilk to positively impact short and long term health, and this new research is an important step in understanding how breastfeeding's impact on gut health can impact disease prevention," said Dr. Canale.

Source: The New York Times The Importance of Infants’ Exposure to Micro-Organisms

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