Formula fed babies aren't so bad off after all

One of the most difficult decisions I had to make about three months after my daughter Vanessa was born was complimenting breastfeeding with formula feedings. Besides formula being extremely expensive, I had always heard that breastfeeding was so much better for all the obvious reasons, including babies' ability to regulate their own milk intake. My decision would've been so much easier to make, if only a new study challenging that idea had been available back then. 

For years, formula has been linked to faster weight gain in babies' first year, putting them at greater risk of obesity later in life. But a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that babies who are given extra amino acids in their formula ate less and felt full sooner than with regular cow's-milk formula, suggesting that bottle-feeding doesn't necessarily make babies less capable of regulating their own intake. 

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This is because the extra amino acids (in this case glutamate) seem to trigger a signal in the baby's body that tells them they've eaten enough. But while human breast milk has naturally high levels of glutamate, most infant formulas are made with cow's milk, which has much less. 

"What food is fed may be at least as important as how it is fed," according to one of the study's researchers.  

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I think this is great news for all those moms who wish to breastfeed their children but for whatever reason--be it medical or social--can't. Breast milk will always trump everything else, but for so many of us breastfeeding is not always a possibility and that's really hard to deal with. Hopefully, with studies like this, formula will get better and better and as close to breast milk as possible. 

Was your baby breastfed or formula-fed?

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