Breastfeeding has been the most healthful and loving bond between mother and baby from time immemorial. In recent years, the practice has been splashed across headlines. But this week's reports, July 9 on CNBC, and this morning, July 10 on “CBS This Morning," have nothing to do with mommies being banished from a department store for nursing in public or the trials of breastfeeding for a new celebrity mom. In this instance, as initially reported by the New York Times, the United States delegation to the UN seems to have tried strong-arm tactics to get language attempting to “protect, promote, and support” breastfeeding taken out of a UN resolution.

A surprise affront

Considering that the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Institutes of Health, and countless agencies for global aid, both in the United States and across the world, have extolled the inherent good of breastfeeding for mothers and infants for years, the US resistance was a shock, and completely unexpected. The US delegation apparently threatened withdrawal of military aid, and restrictive trade measures on Ecuador, if the South American nation refused to drop the resolution that was expected to pass, in May, without problems. It seems tragic that breastfeeding babies and mothers are being dragged into the tit-for-tat tactics of a trade war that is already taking a toll.

It has been suggested that the actions were actually in support of US infant formula manufacturers.

The Department of Health and Human Services tried to modify the stance per reports this morning from CBS that women should have “access to alternatives” in meeting the nutritional and health needs of their children.

The majority of mothers in the world walk miles in hopes of getting just enough water to survive through a day, and often, the water that they must settle for is far from safe to drink. It is impossible to see how mixing powdered baby formula several times a day, with no cold storage, is a valid option.

In contrast, a nursing mother is an “on-demand” nutritional system for her child, rich in antibodies and hormones that no dry formula in a canister can ever provide.

Still the gold standard

“Breastfeeding is considered the gold standard in infant nutrition,” stressed medical advisor, Tara Narula. In addition to the hormones and antibodies, enzymes, live cells, passed from the mother's body to her child support better health throughout a child's life. Bacterial and respiratory infections, which can be rampant in underdeveloped regions, are less frequent and severe in breastfed children. Diarrhea and digestive issues are also lessened. No matter how stringent an FDA regulation for infant formula is, no manufacturer can replicate what comes naturally from the mother.

The emotional ties that form during these feeding interludes are immeasurable.

Obesity and diabetes are occurring in younger and younger patients in the United States, and breastfeeding has been traced to reducing the risk for these conditions. Some studies suggest that children who are breastfed develop better regulation of the body’s triggers and sensations for hunger and that a mother’s hormones may help adjustment of insulin levels. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) also happens less frequently in breastfed children.

Breastfeeding moms also reap benefits, with decreased risk for ovarian and breast cancer, less chance of postpartum depression, and a quicker return to pre-pregnancy weight.

Better health for moms and babies translates into an economic boost, saving $300 billion healthcare dollars.

One thing that is changing regarding infant health is the timing for solid foods. For many years, some mothers were scolded as though it was a maternal sin to start babies on solid foods before six months of age. Dr. Narula cited recent research involving 1300 infants, with one group starting on a mixture of solids and formula as early as 16 weeks, and the other group withholding solids until a full six months. The babies taking earlier solids slept about two hours more per week and had less nighttime waking. This added rest factor may precipitate more leniency for many pediatricians.

No one will likely ever understand the reason behind this recent breast-feeding rebuff, but apparently, no one disputes the benefits of the practice. Whether a mother is able to breastfeed or not, a healthy, happy baby is a treasure, and one who sleeps a little better is a gift for any mom, too.

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