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Breastfeeding your baby provides many benefits. Breast milk provides essential nutrients and affords protection against many infections and illnesses. It contains fatty acids needed for healthy brain development.
The composition of breast milk will change as your baby develops, continuing to offer up the nutrients needed at each stage of development. More than 200 elements in breast milk have been identified that along with nourishing the infant, also contribute to the healthy development of its immune system and nervous system. Breastfeeding causes the release of endorphins for mother and child, and may even be a pain reliever for the baby.
Breastfeeding may also decrease your child's chances of becoming gluten intolerant. Gluten intolerance causes a variety of digestive issues, and can cause neurological and respiratory difficulties, as well as skin problems like eczema or psoriasis. It can cause anxiety and depression, and may contribute to ADHD, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
According to The Archives of Disease in Childhood Study, six large studies have indicated that breastfeeding can significantly lessen the risk of celiac disease, a form of gluten intolerance. The longer a child is breastfed, the smaller the risk would become. This research reports that the incidence of celiac disease was reduced in infants who were breastfed by 52 percent.
The reasons for this protection by breastfeeding are not known but there are some theories on the subject. Breast milk passes on immunities from the mother which means there is less chance of intestinal infections. It protects the bowel lining, which helps prevent gluten from going deeper into the gut which can potentially affect the baby's health adversely.
However, it is possible for allergens ingested by the mother to end up in her breast milk. A study of breast milk in mothers eating gluten disclosed high levels of gliadin which is a protein found in gluten. This does not necessarily affect all infants, but for those who show symptoms of gluten intolerance, any gluten in the mother's diet can have serious effects.