Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Elul 5765 - September 21, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Home and Family

Your Medical Questions Answered!
by Joseph B. Leibman, MD

Director, Emergency Services, Bikur Cholim Hospital

I have spoken about this subject before but the definitive document just came out, and I would like to highlight the salient points. Another reason to present this information is the proliferation of physicians in Israel that bemoan this practice. What practice? Nursing our children.

A recent article in the Israeli Medical Association Journal has 2/3 of women nursing at first, while after three months only 24 percent are still nursing.

The article I am referring to is a policy statement in the journal called Pediatrics, from Feb. 2005. It is endorsed by the American Association of Pediatrics. They start out with the complicated statement that human milk is species specific and therefore superior to all other foods. What that means is that human milk is designed for humans, so for sure is more worthwhile.

Let us look closely into the benefits that have been proven in research. There is a lesser chance of infectious diseases in nursed infants including meningitis, diarrhea, urinary tract infections, and respiratory tract infections. There is less infant mortality — a reduction of 21 percent — less diabetes, obesity, cholesterol problems, asthma and certain cancers. It also makes these kids smarter, although these numbers are small.

Nursing calms children enough so that they feel less pain during painful procedures.

Benefits to moms include less bleeding and faster return to previous weight, less osteoporosis, less risk of breast and ovarian cancer, fewer hip fractures.

Are there any times one should not nurse? Infection is not a reason! Mothers with drug abuse problems, with TB, getting chemotherapy or radiation or who have AIDs. But this is not the case with most women.

Hepatitis is not a reason to stop. Most children with jaundice — yellow skin — can be nursed.

Children one hour old can already nurse, and the mother is the best heat source for the newborn.

Here is an important point: Exclusive nursing provides enough for growth and development for the first six months of life. So do not let the doctor tell you to stop because the baby is not gaining enough weight. Even in hot climates, like Israel, water and juice are unnecessary for nursed children.

The recommendation is to continue nursing for the first year, and then as long as wanted. There is no damage from continuing even beyond three years. These children will still be well adjusted. They do recommend that supplementation of vitamin K and D may be necessary. I am not sure why vitamin K is needed, but it would seem to me that since sunlight contributes vitamin D to the body and we get plenty of that here in Israel, that it would not be necessary.

They are against encouragement to use formula such as perks given upon discharge from the hospital (coupons and the like). Separation of mother and baby is frowned upon.

Further information should be obtained from your local chapter of the LaLeche League. Write me in care of the Yated.

A message from GlaxoSmithKline, sponsor of this column. Eczema and allergic dermatitis do extremely well with the treatment provided by Dermovate. It reduces the itch and irritation. Ask your doctor about Dermovate. It could help you immensely.


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