Is the use of formula milk in place of breast milk any different, can formula milk be seen as an apt substitute for breastfeeding and many such related questions have spun a lot of debate over the years with each gathering its fair share of supporters. But with the recent declaration by World Health Organisation (WHO) ‘to not use formula milk in place of breast milk’ and ‘there cannot be any substitute for breast milk’ has put the question to a steady rest.
Let’s have a look at how breast milk trumps any formula feed that is given to an infant:

  1. Breast milk is more than just food instead is a complex substance which contains around one million white blood cells called ‘macrophages’ which wipes out germs which the formula feed lacks.
  2. It is also packed up with ‘immunoglobulin A’, which the formula milk lacks. It coats the lining of infants’ immature intestines preventing any germ leak or food allergies.
  3. Breastfed infants are biochemically different which makes them healthier with fewer diseases, and even when sick are less likely to be dehydrated and in need of hospitalization.
  4. Unlike formula feeds which are heavy breast milk is easier to consume and digest, keeping the baby light and lively.
  5. Breastfed babies have fewer, or at least less severe, colds than formula-fed babies. Fewer colds mean fewer ear infections; also causes less fluid build-up in the middle ear leading to bare minimum respiratory allergies.
  6. Breast milk apart from these protects the baby from a range of other infections:
  • Haemophilus influenzae type B
  • Pneumonia caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Meningitis
  • Infant botulism
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Cholera
  • Salmonella
  • coli infections
  • Respiratory syncytial virus
  • Diarrhea
  1. Breastfed babies are also less likely to become victims of ‘SIDS’ (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) as they remain light and can awaken from sleep if they stop breathing due to deep sleep.
  2. While all babies spit up a bit, some regurgitate excessive amounts of milk, because of a condition called gastroesophageal reflux (GER). In many infants, it takes six months to a year for this muscle to mature enough to prevent this regurgitation or reflux. GER is less of a problem in breastfed infants because breast milk is emptied twice as fast from the stomach. It’s less likely to be regurgitated than slow-to-digest formula with its tough casein curds.