Despite the higher risk of iron deficiency and potential anemia, Willows said that the "breast-is-best" advice stands. Iron deficiency is generally correctable with supplements, she noted, while GI infections can be serious and even fatal.
The study results apply much more to women in underdeveloped countries than those in the United States, because fewer American women have low iron levels, said Dr. Ruth Lawrence, chairwoman of the section on breast-feeding at the American Academy of Pediatrics, and professor of pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, in New York.
Other studies have found that formula-fed babies have more gastrointestinal infections, she said.
Researchers have found that ''breast-fed babies don't become anemic if their cords are not cut too soon," Lawrence said. Delaying the cut for as little as two minutes can help improve the baby's iron status and confer other benefits, she added.
To learn more about breast-feeding, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Noreen Willows, Ph.D., assistant professor, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Ruth Lawrence, M.D., chair, section on breast-feeding, American Academy of Pediatrics, and professor of pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology, University of Rochester School of Medicine, Rochester, N.Y.; August 2008, The Journal of Nutrition
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