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Friday, July 28, 2006

Breastfed Babies Avoid Allergies

Breastfeed your baby.

Seriously. It's important. Breastfeeding is not just healthier, it helps children avoid allergy problems, according to a consensus statement on infant feeding released this week by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). Solid foods of all types should be avoided for the first six months, and certain items -- like cow's milk, eggs, fish, and nuts -- should not be introduced until even later. The consensus statement is published in the July issue of the organization's journal, Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

The committee also made the following recommendations, as listed on WebMD.com:

• Staple foods, such as fruits, vegetables, meats, soy, and cereal be introduced "individually and gradually" to lessen allergy risk.

• Mixed foods containing a variety of potentially allergenic foods should be avoided until the baby's tolerance to each ingredient is known.

• Beef, vegetables, and fruits should initially be given in the form of prepared baby foods that are cooked and homogenized. Studies suggest these processed foods are less likely to cause allergies than their fresh counterparts.

One big question remains: if breastfeeding is so important, why are Americans – including American women – hysterical over seeing a nursing breast?

The magazine babytalk featured a photo of a baby nursing on its August 2006 cover. No nipple can even be seen. Just the baby and a round lump of flesh that we know to be a breast only through logic.

Yet an article by AP's Jocelyn Noveck, found at SFGate.com, revealed that the women, mothers!, who are the magazine's audience went bananas over the cover.
"I was SHOCKED to see a giant breast on the cover of your magazine," one person wrote. "I immediately turned the magazine face down," wrote another. "Gross," said a third. ...

One mother who didn't like the cover explains she was concerned about her 13-year-old son seeing it.

"I shredded it," said Gayle Ash, of Belton, Texas, in a telephone interview. "A breast is a breast -- it's a sexual thing. He didn't need to see that." …

"Gross, I am sick of seeing a baby attached to a boob," wrote Lauren, a mother of a 4-month-old.

I guess we'll be seeing more babies with bottles of formula in their mouths in the future. And more allergies after that. And the mothers will wonder why.

Breastfeed your baby. And do it in public. Often. If everybody does it, people will stop noticing or caring. And everybody will win.

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