Breastfeeding offers several benefits. But not breastfeeding opens doors to several risks says Dr Vishnuvardhan Reddy Meedimale, consultant neonatal and Pediatric Intensivist, Apollo Cradle, Kondapur, Hyderabad. Here are some of the risks:

1. Infectious Morbidity
The plasma cells present in the bronchial tree of the produces antibodies protecting from infectious morbidity. It also helps in preventing respiratory pathogens to attach to the infant’s kid.

2. Otitis Media
Some newborns have an episode of otitis media in their life. Kids who are fed formula, are twice the risk than the kids who are breastfed. The antibodies and oligosaccharides present in breast milk offer protection from infection.

3. Lower respiratory Tract Infection
A study published in the medical journal PLoS has shown that kids who were not breastfed had more risk of developing an infection in the lower respiratory tract as compared to the kids who were breastfed. Most of the kids who were hospitalized due to this were infected with RSV. Breast milk contains antiviral activity against RSV infection.

4. Gastrointestinal Infections
Formula-fed kids have an increased risk of diarrhoea and gastroenteritis. This risk is greater than the kids who were exclusively breastfed.

5. Obesity and Metabolic Disease
There have been several epidemiologic studies showing that kids who are not breastfed have more chances of developing type 2 diabetes and obesity. This also increases the risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and less favourable profiles of lipid. Adipokines, present in breast milk, regulates the energy intake in the body, reducing the risk of obesity.

6. Neurodevelopment
Studies have shown that there is a relation between cognitive development and infant feeding. Children who were fed formula had a lower IQ than the children who were breastfed. However, there have been reports showing that there is no relationship between intelligence and infant feeding. Some formulas have started adding long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) to their product to improve neurocognitive functions.

7. Leukaemia
There have been some studies which show that there is a connection between childhood leukaemia and infant feeding. Breast milk contains immunoreactive factors that help in preventing viral infections associated with the leukaemia pathogenesis. Another study found that formula-fed infants have more risk of developing acute myeloid leukaemia.

8. Infant Mortality
Research has shown that kids who consume formula have more risk of infant mortality.