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Breastfeeding should be viewed as both a short-term and a long-term investment in the health of babies.
This is one of the conclusions of a study, published in the journal Pediatrics, in which the American Academy of Pediatrics (American Academy of Pediatrics, AAP) recommends that children should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life.
After twelve months, breastfeeding can continue for as long as both mother and baby wish to do so, supplementing with other types of food.
As well as being a natural and beneficial source of nutrition, breastfeeding also fosters a bond between mother and child.
Breastfed babies are one-third less likely to die from SIDS, and 15-30% less likely to become obese adolescents and adults, than formula-fed babies.
Other health benefits associated with breastfeeding include protection against respiratory illnesses, ear infections, gastrointestinal illnesses, asthma, and eczema.