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Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz. 2018 Aug;61(8):945-951. doi: 10.1007/s00103-018-2773-4.

[The importance of breastfeeding for the infant].

[Article in German]

Author information

Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, Bühl, Deutschland.
NSK, Berlin, Deutschland.
, Im Wasserbett 7, 77815, Bühl, Deutschland.
NSK, Berlin, Deutschland.
Stillen und Ernährung, Deutscher Hebammenverband, Hannover, Deutschland.
, Hannover, Deutschland.
Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung, Berlin, Deutschland.


Breastmilk is natural nutrition for infants. In addition to nutrients, breast milk contains a variety of immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial substances that help to reduce short- and long-term morbidity risks and positively influence the child's cognitive and psychomotor development. Studies show that breastfed children are at a significantly lower risk for lower respiratory tract infections, otitis media, and gastroenteritis compared with non-breastfed children. Also, the risk for sudden infant death syndrome is significantly reduced by breastfeeding. Breastfeeding does not have an influence on the risk of allergies, neither in the overall population nor in children with a familial predisposition. However, breastfeeding promotes brain development, especially of the white matter, and is associated with improved intelligence by about 2 IQ points. Furthermore, studies show an inverse correlation between breastfeeding and the subsequent risk for obesity, and there is evidence for a risk reduction of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Breastfed infants can largely regulate their food intake. This can have a positive effect on later eating behavior and the risk for becoming overweight. In view of the positive health effects of breastfeeding, it is recommended that infants be breast-fed exclusively during the first few months of life and that complementary feeding should be started at the earliest from the beginning of the 5th month and no later than at the beginning of the 7th month. Complementary food should be offered in a suitable form and with consideration of the signals of the child. Overall, breastfeeding can make a significant contribution to promoting public health and thereby to reducing healthcare costs.


Breastfeeding; Breastfeeding recommendation; Complementary feeding; Infant; Prevention


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