Health Buzz: Breast-feeding and Formula May Benefit Newborns

Prenatal vitamins: the building blocks of nutrition; how to breast-feed twins

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Babies born even a few days before 39 weeks gestation are at risk for health problems.

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Researchers Study the Effects of Early Formula Feedings on Newborns Who are Losing Weight

Babies with early weight loss may benefit from receiving limited intakes of formula in addition to breast milk, suggests a study published Monday in Pediatrics. In fact, the randomized trial suggests that these early formula feedings may even help the infants transition later to breast milk only. Researchers studied 38 newborns who had lost 5 percent or more of their weight in the first day or two after birth. Half were randomly selected to only breast-feed, while the other half were given "early limited formula intervention," in which they were fed 10 milliliters of formula after each breast-feeding. After three months, 79 percent of the babies in the latter group, who received formula, had transitioned to breast-feeding exclusively, reports Fox News. Only 42 percent of the babies who started off with breast-feeding only continued that way, with the remainder receiving supplemental formula.

"Most babies don't need formula," lead author, Valerie Flaherman, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco told Fox News. "But some kids are at risk for weight loss, and this could be an option."

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  • Prenatal Vitamins: The Building Blocks of Nutrition

    Eating a healthy, balanced diet is the best way of getting the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to stay healthy. If you are planning to conceive a child or if you are already pregnant or breast-feeding, you need higher amounts of certain nutrients for both your health and the health of your baby. Prenatal vitamin and mineral supplements will help you get all the nutrients that you need during this important time in your life.

    What Are Prenatal Vitamins?

    Prenatal vitamins are nutritional supplements. They contain key nutrients that women need when they are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breast-feeding. These include folic acid (a type of B-complex vitamin), calcium, iron and docasahexenoic acid, or DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid). Prenatal supplements can also include vitamins C, D, E and other B vitamins, as well as minerals. Prenatal vitamins are an important part of pregnancy nutrition. They should be used together with a healthy, balanced diet. Results from some studies suggest that prenatal vitamins may actually decrease the risk of a low birth weight.

    When Should I Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins?

    Many health care professionals would agree that you should begin to take prenatal vitamins at least three months before you try to get pregnant. This is because folic acid can help prevent neural tube defects, which are birth defects that can develop in the first 28 days after conception. [Read more: Prenatal Vitamins: The Building Blocks of Nutrition]

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    • How to Breast-feed Twins

      People assume a lot about you when you're a parent of twins, writes U.S. News blogger Tamara Duker Freuman. For example, they assume you used fertility drugs or in vitro fertilization (IVF) to conceive. Or that you delivered via C-section. And of course, that you're formula-feeding your babies. After all—it's impossible to breast-feed twins … isn't it?

      In fact, it is not. While they may not represent the majority, plenty of twin moms do indeed breast-feed. I count myself among this group of self-described stubborn, determined, and persistent women who managed to exclusively breast-feed both their babies until weaning to cow's milk. God gave us two breasts and two babies, after all; the math works out quite elegantly.

      To be sure, most moms admit that breast-feeding their twins was hard as hell—at least in the first few months until everyone got the hang of it. There are tears, there is exhaustion, and there are more than a few moments—particularly when hooked up to a double breast pump—where one quite literally feels more bovine than human. But like any labor of love, it's worth the effort—even if it takes the benefit of hindsight (and a full night's sleep) to fully appreciate this fact. [Read more: How to Breast-feed Twins]