As if we didn’t already know that breastfeeding gives our babies the healthiest start in life, yet another reason to let the little one latch on was just released by JAMA Pediatrics. Namely, that children who were breastfed as infants have a markedly lower instance of childhood leukemia. One of the most common childhood cancers (it accounts for roughly 30% of all childhood cancers), leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow and can be utterly devastating.
Terrifyingly enough, just under 200,000 per year around the globe are diagnosed with one form of leukemia or another. Shockingly, this number applies to little ones under the age of 15 alone. It is quite rare when compared to some other cancers, but it’s still the second-leading cause of death for kids under 15 in the US. Only accidents kill more of our youth, and this takes into account advancements in treatments, too.
There are a few risk factors for the disease that medical science has identified. However, by and large most of the afflicted children don’t have any known risk factors at all, and diagnosis’s can be shocking and devastating.
According to the recently published study, simply nursing your infant for six months or longer can reduce their risk of contracting childhood leukemia by almost 20%. This reduction is only applicable if you nurse for at least six months. However, infants that were nursed at all had an 11% reduction in their instance of developing the deadly disease.
This means that any time you devote to breast feeding your little one can be time spent preserving their future health.
Breast Milk a Superfood
If you’re a human infant, you are designed to subside on human breast milk. It’s that simple. Evolution has dictated that it’s the perfect comprehensive food source for our little ones. The AAP and WHO recommend that infants receive breast milk exclusively for the first six months of their lives. It contains not just every nutrient they need, but boosts their immunity, reduces inflammatory responses, and overall provides innumerable health benefits we’re only beginning to fully understand.
While this is the first study of its kind to tout the direct link between breast feeding and leukemia prevention, it mirrors many other studies that have clearly demonstrated the benefits of nursing. No one can argue that supplementary infant formula has saved the lives and health of countless infants since its creation, but the breast clearly is the best.