The first year of a newborn’s life is considered the most difficult for survival, as infants are vulnerable to different diseases and infections. The immune system of newborns and the possible health risks is an important subject for research, but the issue remains understudied. Predisposition to diseases may depend on multiple aspects, such as anatomical factors and family environment. However, it is believed that the means of infant feeding also play a significant role in the overall health of a child. Therefore, the present paper aims to identify whether breastfed newborns have fewer incidences of hospitalization than infants fed on formula milk during the first year of life after birth.
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There have been different studies focused on the correlation between infant feeding and hospitalization rates. According to Degefa et al. (2019), the neonatal period, which is the first 28 days of life after birth, is considered the most difficult for a newborn. The study suggests that feeding on the breast during this time is an important factor, which reduces various health-related risks. Brahm and Valdés (2017) emphasize that breastfeeding protects a vulnerable organism from infectious diseases. Moreover, this means of infant feeding improves the neurodevelopment of a child and reduces the risk of behavioral and other disorders. On the contrary, baby formulas negatively influence intestinal microbiota, thermoregulation, and oxygenation in infants and may increase the risk of oral diseases. It is also suggested that the most common reason for a child’s hospitalization is the limited knowledge of mothers about early-age danger signs (Degefa et al., 2019). Moreover, immunization of a woman before delivery prevents different diseases, such as pertussis, in children who have not received their vaccination yet (Friedrich et al., 2020). These findings demonstrate that breastfeeding and a mother’s health positively influence the immune system of a child.
At the same time, to ensure the well-being of formula-fed children, it is necessary to use other ways of immunization. Corrêa et al. (2019) suggest paying attention to timely vaccination for diphtheria, hepatitis B, and other widespread infections. Homel et al. (2018) also emphasize that delayed immunization is a serious problem that causes a significant number of hospitalization incidents. Therefore, these findings can be used to educate parents about the risks of insufficient infant immunization and the influence of other factors, such as social environment, on a child’s health.
One of the most effective solutions is to prevent hospitalization risks by raising the awareness of mothers about breastfeeding and its positive effect on a child’s immunity. However, if danger signs are already present, it is important to provide parents and their newborn children with accessible medical support. A proper birth registration system is also essential since it allows monitoring infants’ health and providing timely medical assistance (Corrêa et al., 2019). It is necessary to underline the role of government since the quality of these services depends on local healthcare regulations. For example, Gera et al. (2019) suggest a health systems approach, which implies the improvement of medical service delivery and better access to vaccination for newborns. Therefore, although these methods are applied differently, they effectively influence different aspects of the issue.
In conclusion, the analysis of the recent studies confirmed that breastfeeding plays an important role in immune system reinforcement during the first year of a child’s life and reduces hospitalization incidence. To ensure the health and well-being of formula-fed children, it is necessary to implement integrated measures. Besides raising parents’ awareness about preventive measures and vaccination, it is important to improve the accessibility of infant medical services and carefully assess existing health risks.
Brahm, P., & Valdés, V. (2017). Benefits of breastfeeding and risks associated with not breastfeeding. Revista Chilena de Pediatría, 88(1), 15-21.
Corrêa, G., Verstraete, P., Soundardjee, R., Shankar, M., Paterson, C., Hampton, L., Jackson, D., Muniz, M., Mwamba, R., Wenz, K., Bratschi, M. W., AbouZahr, C., & Johnson, H. (2019). Immunization programmes and notifications of vital events. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 97(4), 306-308. Web.
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Degefa, N., Diriba, K., Girma, T., Kebede, A., Senbeto, A., Eshetu, E., Aschalew, Z., Tariku, B., & Zerihun, E. (2019). Knowledge about neonatal danger signs and associated factors among mothers attending immunization clinic at Arba Minch General Hospital, Southern Ethiopia: A cross-sectional study. BioMed Research International, 1–8. Web.
Friedrich, F., Valadão, M. C., Brum, M., Comaru, T., Pitrez, P. M., Jones, M. H., Pinto, L. A., & Scotta, M. C. (2020). Impact of maternal dTpa vaccination on the incidence of pertussis in young infants. PloS One, 15(1), 1-10. Web.
Gera, R., Kapoor, N., Haldar, P., Gupta, S., Parashar, R., Tomar, S., Taneja, D., Chaudhuri, S., Chandra, S., & Taneja, G. (2019). Implementation of “health systems approach” to improve vaccination at birth in institutional deliveries at public health facilities; experience from six states of India. Journal of Family Medicine & Primary Care, 8(5), 1630–1636. Web.
Homel, J., & Edwards, B. (2018). Factors associated with delayed infant immunization in a nationally representative cohort study. Child: Care, Health & Development, 44(4), 583–591. Web.