BAGUIO CITY – The Dean of the Department of Human Nutrition and Food of the Benguet State University (BSU) underscored that mothers and babies that are properly nourished during pregnancy and babies that are exclusively breastfed during the first six months are able to achieve optimum growth and better quality of life in the future.
Dra. Pelin Belino, Dean of the BSU Department of Human Nutrition and Food, pointed out the advantages of breast milk include the fact that it is a complete food for the baby for the first six months; it provides the perfect nutrition and everything the infant needs for healthy growth; it contains essential nutrients needed for the baby’s cognitive development, as well as good bacteria and immunoglobulin for strong immunity; it protects the baby from respiratory infections, diarrhea and other diseases, and fatty acids uniquely found in the breast milk can increase the intelligence quotient of babies up to seven points leading to better performance in school or at work later in life.
On the other hand, she explained that the consequences of non-exclusive breastfeeding from birth to six months include the fact that babies will not be able to achieve their full potential for physical growth and cognitive development and are exposed to short and long-term health risks. She explained that infant formula increases baby’s risk to infections, allergies, digestive problems, as well as obesity, cancers, diabetes and heart diseases in childhood or later in life, and that formula-fed infants are shown to have lower IQs compared to breastfed infants and may experience iron-deficiency anemia, which is also related to impaired cognitive development, risk to iodine deficiency may also increase. If mother does not breastfed her infants, she emphasized, it increases her risk to being overweight and obese and is exposed to diabetes, certain types of cancer and cardiovascular diseases and mixed feeding can decrease breast milk production since its supply is driven by frequent, effective breastfeeding in response to the feeding cues of the baby.
In addition, Belino explained the baby may prefer bottle-feeding over breastfeeding once they are exposed to mixed feeding during the first six months of life.
According to her, feeding bottles release formula milk without stopping until they are empty; whereas in breastfeeding, the baby has to continue sucking until milk let-down. Emptying the bottle and improper appetite and regulation by the baby increases the risk for childhood obesity, according to her.
For her part, Dominga Dawe, nutritionist and dietician of the Under 5 Clinic of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC), claimed that those who had been properly nourished from conceptualization up to two years old and beyond are the ones who are intelligent in school and at work, and that health authorities can already predict the maximum height of the baby upon reaching two years old when given the proper nourishment for the first 1,000 days.
By Dexter A. See