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Earlier this year, breastfeeding got plenty of positive attention when the World Health Organization (WHO) released a study finding that exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months could save over 1 million babies' lives each year. And now, add more reasons for babies to stick to mom's milk until they reach the half-year mark.
A study released today by Pediatrics found that babies who were breastfed without consuming any other food or drink for the first four months had a significantly lower rate of respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases. This is particularly interesting since the WHO study included babies in unindustrialized countries, but this new one was conducted in the Netherlands, where modern medicine is practiced. In other words, women here in the U.S. might not see the need to exclusively breastfeed as a matter of life and death, but it can protect their babies from common ailments that could cause dangerous infections, like pneumonia and diarrhea. The benefits lasted throughout baby's entire first year. When it comes to breastfeeding, the consensus seems to be the longer the better: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding until six months of age.