Breastfeeding health claims questioned

Benefits of breastfeeding may not be as great as we’ve been told, claims expert

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Much of the evidence we hear about how good it is to breastfeed our babies is out date, a professor of paediatrics who has advised the World Health Organisation and Unicef has said, reports the Telegraph.

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Evidence that breastfeeding protects your baby against obesity was flawed, the health expert, Michael Kramer, said. Also, proof that breastfeeding protects against asthma and allergies wasn’t strong either. “I don’t favour overselling the evidence, we should not be conveying false information. I think some of the advice promulgated on obesity or allergies is false information,” he was quoted as saying in the Times.

Michael Kramer also told the Times that there was little evidence that breastfeeding reduced the risk of leukaemia, lymphoma, bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, heart disease and blood pressure.

However, some claims of the health benefits of breastfeeding were well founded, such as protecting against ear infections and gastrointestinal illnesses.

Only the benefits on gastrointestinal illnesses had been proven conclusively, said academic Joan Wolf, who has done five years of research into the medical literature on breastfeeding.

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But the infant formula industry isn’t in the clear either with its claims: “The formula milk industry jump on every piece of equivocal evidence. But the breastfeeding lobby have a way of ignoring the evidence. Both sides are not being very scientific,” said Michael Kramer.

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