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World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated globally every year from 1 to 7 August to promote breastfeeding and its impact on the overall health of infants. Innocenti Declaration was signed in August 1990 by WHO, UNICEF and other Government policymakers to support and create awareness about breastfeeding.
According to WHO guidelines, breast milk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It not only provides essential nutrition, but also protects the child against many common childhood infections, boosts their immune system and lowers the risk of sudden infant death syndrome as well. Breastfeeding impacts the mothers' health in numerous ways too, such as promoting faster weight loss and fighting postpartum depression.
Researchers have come up with some recent advancements on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding. Read on to find out some interesting new developments on this subject.
- A study shows that breastfeeding for a longer period may help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in women who were diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Long-term lactation makes them 30 per cent less likely to grow signs of type 2 diabetes compared to those who did not breastfeed  .
- Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of abnormalities that raises the chances of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Research shows that babies who were breastfed, are less prone to grow signs of metabolic syndrome in their teen years  .
- Breastfeeding protects babies from becoming overweight in the later stage. Rapid weight gain in infancy can lead to obesity. However, the babies who were fed breast milk instead of formula milk, do not tend to gain extra weight by one year of age  .
- Evidence shows that a mother's weight can impact the composition of her breast milk. A recent study reveals that the breast milk of obese women contains a higher level of total fat and hormones including leptin and insulin compared to the breast milk of normal-weight mothers. This difference has been proven to be more evident during the first six months of postpartum breastfeeding. More research needs to be done to determine how this affects infant growth or development  .
- A new and first of its kind study on breastfeeding reveals that a mother's diet can also influence her child's intestinal microbiome. The researchers have found an association between the calorie, protein and carbohydrate content of a breastfeeding mother's diet and the kind of bacteria found in her baby's stool  .
- Recent research shows that consuming high-fructose beverages can increase the fructose level in the breast milk of lactating mothers  .
Apart from physical well-being, breastfeeding aids in potential economic and environmental benefits for communities in developing countries. It simultaneously produces naturally soothing hormones like oxytocin and prolactin that help uplift the overall mood and alleviate stress in lactating mothers.
-  Lactation Duration and Progression to Type 2 Diabetes among Women with a History of Gestational Diabetes (2018), American Society For Nutrition. Retrieved from https://www.eventscribe.com/2018/Nutrition2018/fsPopup.asp?Mode=presInfo&PresentationID=407678
-  The Impact of Breastfeeding and Gestational Diabetes Mellitus on the Prevalence of the Metabolic Syndrome in Offspring of Hispanic Mothers (2018), American Society For Nutrition. Retrieved from https://www.eventscribe.com/2018/Nutrition2018/fsPopup.asp?Mode=presInfo&PresentationID=407680
-  Early infant rapid weight gain and odds for overweight at 1 year of age differs in breastfed versus formula fed infants (2018), American Society For Nutrition. Retrieved from https://www.eventscribe.com/2018/Nutrition2018/fsPopup.asp?Mode=presInfo&PresentationID=407680
-  Macronutrients and bioactive components in breast milk from normal weight, overweight and obese mothers (2018), Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences [PDF file]. Retrieved from https://www.dropbox.com/s/kuoh4l883hlzhyj/Sims%20compounds%20in%20breast%20milk%20abstract.pdf?dl=0
-  Associations between Maternal Intake Of Energy- Yielding Nutrients during Breastfeeding and Relative Abundance of Bacterial Genera in the Infant Fecal Microbiome (2018), University of Idaho [PDF file]. Retrieved from https://www.dropbox.com/s/pdnijk3gccyzdt4/Williams%20breastfed%20infant%20microbiome%20abstract.pdf?dl=0
-  High-fructose corn syrup-sweetened beverage increases breast milk fructose levels in lactating women (2018), American Society For Nutrition. Retrieved from https://www.eventscribe.com/2018/Nutrition2018/fsPopup.asp?Mode=presInfo&PresentationID=407677