Breast is Best Fact Sheet

Benefits for the Child

    Breastfed babies:

  • get sick less often and get illnesses that are less severe
  • are hospitalized less often and have a lower rate of mortality
  • have a lower risk of diarrheal disease
  • have a lower incidence of gastrointestinal illness
  • have a lower risk of urinary tract infections
  • have a lower incidence of respiratory disease
  • have a lower incidence of otitis media (ear infections)
  • have a lower incidence of allergies
  • have lower rates of obesity
  • have a lower incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • have fewer learning and behavior difficulties
  • have a lower rate of pneumonia, neonatal sepsis, and giardia


  • helps bond mother and child
  • confers passive immunity
  • is protective against measles and other communicable diseases
  • provides optimal growth and neurological development
  • prevents malocclusion/leads to better teeth/jaw development
  • protects against hypothermia
  • provides partial protection against necrotising entercolitis
  • provides major protection against bacteremia and meningitis
  • reduces the incidence of childhood lymphoma
  • enhances visual development
  • provides protection against neonatal sepsis
  • is less risky for premature babies and low birth weight babies

Atificially fed babies:

  • have an increased risk factor for juvenile diabetes
  • may have impaired antibody response to vaccines
  • premature infants experience apnea & bradycardia more
  • frequently
  • have a higher risk of inflammatory illness
  • have a higher risk of celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative
  • colitis, cholera, and neonatal hypocalcemic tetany

Benefits for the Mother


  • bonds mother and child
  • provides the mother with a hormone-induced contentment
  • encourages efficient uterine contractions after childbirth
  • allows mothers to lose pregnancy weight and size faster
  • is convenient (the milk is pre-warmed, clean and always available)
  • is cost-effective and saves families money
  • contributes to natural family planning
  • contributes to household food security
  • fosters confidence and promotes self-esteem
  • reduces the incidence of urinary tract infections
  • is protective against cancer (breast, ovarian, cervical)
  • lowers the incidence of chronic hepatitis
  • reduces the risk of osteoporosis
  • reduces the requirements of insulin for lactating diabetic mothers

Benefits for the community


  • results in decreased environmental waste
  • frees up health resources
  • saves money for hospitals and health clinics
  • may decrease spending on imports

UNICEF estimates that 1.5 million babies die each year worldwide — because they are not breastfed …

There is no cheaper or more effective way of improving maternal and infant health and lowering fertility than the promotion of breastfeeding …

©1995 Milk, Money, and Madness: The Culture and Politics of Breastfeeding

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