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Is mother's milk the optimum in human infant nutrition? Emphatically yes, according to a joint statement recently issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS).
The two main advantages of breast-feeding, according to the statement, are the transmission of maternal immunity and the reinforcement of "bonding," which is considered necessary for the emotional nurturing of the infant.
"There is increasing evidence that a newborn infant can acquire certain important elements of host resistance from breast milk while maturation of his own immune system is taking place. The human breast secretes antibodies to some intestinal microorganisms and this may help protect breast-fed infants from enteric infection," the joint statement declares. "Recent observation has established the presence of an enteromammary system by which enteric antigenstimulated mucosal plasma cells in the mother migrate to breast tissue where they secrete antibodies or are [themselves] secreted directly into breast
Annexton M. Breast-feeding lauded by pediatricians. JAMA. 1978;240(24):2612. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290240012002