The benefits of extended breast feeding have been hidden in recent years.
A boycott was launched in the United States on July 7, 1977, against the Swiss-based Nestlé corporation. It spread in the United States, and expanded into Europe in the early 1980s. It was prompted by concern about Nestlé’s “aggressive marketing” of breast milk substitutes, particularly in developing countries, largely among the poor. The boycott has been cancelled and renewed based upon scrutiny of the business practices of Nestlé and other substitute manufacturers monitored by the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN). Organizers of the boycott encourage the practice of newborn nutrition via natural breast milk and claim that use of the substitutes represent a health risk for infants. As of 2013, the Nestlé boycott is coordinated by the International Nestlé Boycott Committee, the secretariat for which is the UK group Baby Milk Action.
According to an article on the Mayo Clinic website,
The benefits of extended breast-feeding for a baby include:
- Balanced nutrition. Breast milk is considered the gold standard for infant nutrition. As your baby gets older, the composition of your breast milk will continue to change to meet his or her nutritional needs. There’s no known age at which breast milk is considered to become nutritionally insignificant for a child.
- Boosted immunity. As long as you breast-feed, the cells, hormones and antibodies in your breast milk will continue to bolster your baby’s immune system.
- Improved health. Research suggests that the longer breast-feeding continues and the more breast milk a baby drinks, the better his or her health might be.
The article also listed benefits for the mothers
- Reduced risk of certain illnesses. Extended breast-feeding — as well as breast-feeding for 12 months or more cumulatively in life — has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
- Improved health. Research suggests that the longer breast-feeding continues and the more breast milk a baby drinks, the better a mother’s health might be.
The article went on to say,
Worldwide, babies are weaned on average between ages 2 and 4. In some cultures, breast-feeding continues until children are age 6 or 7. In other parts of the world, however, extended breast-feeding is less common and can sometimes provoke uninformed, negative reactions.