For many years, pediatricians have encouraged a mom-to-be to consider the health aspects associated with breast feeding. While medical research has shown the many health impacts of breast feeding over bottle feeding, one such recent study moves one step closer to encouraging women to breast feed, if even for only a few weeks. As a pregnant women, considering a variety of health option, both personally and that of the newborn, breastfeeding is one health decision which should be seriously considered for not only the immediate health and immune response in the infant but also in the long term health impact, especially involving vision and the loss of visual depth perception late in life.
Loss of visual depth perception is a common vision complication which presents later in life. As a result, medical research has been well underway to determine what, if any, early childhood development may play on this long term, age related health complication of the eyes. It is through this medical research and studies that scientists have narrowed the long term health of vision, and associated age related deterioration, to a common element; breast milk. So, how does breastfeeding in the newborn impact vision later in life?
With the omega-3 fatty acid, DHA, found in natural production within breast milk, medical research has shown infants, who are breastfed, tend to test better in depth perception vision examination in early childhood when compared to the same age children who are bottle fed. As a brain enhancing element, DHA is believed to improve the overall cognitive function of children who are breastfed thereby improving the depth perception development in early childhood. With continued breastfeeding, resulting in greater intake of DHA, these same children are provided with reinforced cognitive function which is shown to deteriorate more slowly with aging.
In addition to greater cognitive depth perception development, medical research has also supported the use of breastfeeding as a method to natural reduce the incidence of myopia in children as they enter grade school. This is not to say that breastfeeding should occur into grade school but, instead, should be done for the first three to six months of life so as to provide the newborn with the appropriate intake of DHA when the brain development is most significant. As an added measure, breastfeeding mothers who can provide this natural form of DHA to an infant, for periods greater than six months of age, may be providing the child with significant long term health benefits which, in many cases, may not even be realized until the child reaches middle to late adulthood.
As with most medical related decisions associated with prenatal and postnatal health, women are often left with limited choices and personal decisions. One significant health choice, which impacts the health of mom and baby, is the choice to breastfeed over bottle feeding an infant. With DHA supplemented formula not considered a health benefit to the newborn, breastfeeding is the most optimal choice for infants especially in terms of long term brain development and visual health which spans over the course of the child’s life.
For information regarding health advantages of breast feeding, visit www.parenting.com