Being a new mother brings with it a string of questions you might not have the answers to. And one of the most important one that hovers over you, especially in the first few months of your baby's birth is whether you should give your baby formula milk or stick with time tested breast milk.
According to a 2015 research (The truth about baby food), "Milk, whether formula or breast milk, should be the their main source of nutrition exclusively for six months and thereafter complementary foods are slowly introduced, alongside milk, for tastes, textures and to provide the nutrients that a baby might start to lack at about six months."
But the question really is which one should it be? Formula milk or breast milk? According to a study conducted at Dartmouth College, formula-fed infants were found to have higher arsenic levels in their bodies than babies that were fed breast milk. But this was said to be a combination of the powdered formula and the water that was used to mix it.
The researchers measured arsenic in home tap water, urine from 72 six-week-old infants and breast milk from nine women in New Hampshire. Urinary arsenic was 7.5 times lower for breast-fed than formula-fed infants!
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The study was published in the journal 'Environmental Health Perspectives' and found that the highest tap water arsenic concentrations far exceeded the arsenic concentrations in powdered formulas, but for the majority of the study's participants, both the powder and water contributed to exposure.
Kathryn Cottingham, lead author of the study said "The results highlight that breastfeeding can reduce arsenic exposure even at the relatively low levels of arsenic typically experienced in the United States."
This is an important public health benefit of breastfeeding, Cottingham added. Arsenic occurs naturally in bedrock and is a common global contaminant of well water. It causes cancers and other diseases and early-life exposure has been associated with increased foetal mortality, decreased birth weight and diminished cognitive function.
Margaret Karagas, senior author and professor concluded by saying that "We advise families with private wells to have their tap water tested for arsenic."
With inputs from IANS