As an internationally board-certified lactation consultant, I'm often asked, “What are the benefits of breast milk?”

My answer: “Plenty!”

Breast milk is often called “white blood” because it is similar in its ability to transport nutrients and carry out functions such as fighting infection. It is constantly changing and adapting to best meet the requirements of babies, to enhance their growth, development and survival. Breast milk is the ideal foundation for optimal infant health. Research has shown us the extensive health benefits of exclusive breastfeeding for both mom and baby that cannot be matched by formula.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for baby's first year and beyond, and the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for two years and beyond.

Below is a list of some of those benefits:

Benefits for baby:

  • Live immunoglobulins and antibodies
  • Specific human probiotics and enzymes
  • Antimicrobial and antiviral properties
  • Sleep inducing proteins
  • Growth factors and over fifteen hormones
  • Stem cells and antioxidants
  • Oligosaccharides for intestinal health
  • Omega 3's DHA/AHA
  • Reduces risk for childhood obesity by 40%
  • Reduces risk of SIDS by 56%
  • Reduces risk for asthma by 40-50%
  • Reduces risk for allergies
  • Reduces risk of respiratory infections
  • Reduces risk of childhood cancer
  • Reduces risk of osteoporosis for baby
  • Reduces risk for diabetes type I, II
  • Reduces risk of ear infections by 50%
  • Higher intelligence scoring for baby

Benefits for mom:

  • Reduces risk for diabetes type II
  • Reduces risk of breast cancer
  • Reduces risk of ovarian cancer
  • Less expense
  • More convenient
  • Reduces risk of postpartum depression
  • Increases bonding
  • Increases overall confidence in mothering

Kristie Karroum is an RN and an internationally board certified lactation consultant with over ten years of experience supporting women and infants. She is the mother of two boys, ages 7 and 4, and currently works as a lactation consultant in Women's and Infant Services at EIRMC. Her passion is working with new mothers and babies and teaching about the many rewards that breastfeeding offers.