here has been significant reliable evidence produced over recent years to show that breastfeeding has important advantages for both infant and mother, including those living in industrialised countries.
Below is a selected list of recently published studies describing differences in health outcome associated with methods of infant feeding. The studies have all been adjusted for social and economic variables. All were conducted in an industrialised setting.
We also provide a list of additional health benefits that some researchers associate with breastfeeding. Many of these require further investigation to clarify any protective effects of breastfeeding. 
Artificially fed babies are at greater risk of: 
• gastro-intestinal infection
• respiratory infections
• necrotising enterocolitis
• urinary tract infections
• ear infections
• allergic disease (eczema and wheezing)
• insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
• sudden infant death syndrome
• childhood leukaemia.
Breastfed babies may have better:
• neurological development.
More research is needed but breastfeeding may also provide protection for the infant against:
• multiple sclerosis 
• acute appendicitis
• tonsillectomy
• for the mother 
• rheumatoid arthritis.
And for the mother protection against:
• rheumatoid arthritis.
Women who have breastfed are at lower risk of: 
• breast cancer
• ovarian cancer
• hip fractures and bone density.
Other studies related to health and breastfeeding include: 
• Cardiovascular disease in later life
• Breastfeeding, bed sharing and cot death
• Breastfeeding and HIV transmission
• Breastfeeding and dental health.
For further information, see our Research section.

The evidence is well-established, for both the benefits to mother and baby of breastfeeding, and the significant risks of not breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has some of the most wide-reaching and long lasting effects on your baby's health and development, more than anything else you can do for her.

Babies who breastfeed at a lower risk of

  • Gastroenteritis
  • Respiratory infections
  • Sudden infant death syndrome 
  • Obesity
  • Type 1 & 2 diabetes
  • Allergies (e.g. asthma, lactose intolerance)

Benefits to mothers

  • The longer mothers breastfeed, the greater their protection against breast and ovarian cancer, and hip fractures in later life.
  • Recent evidence has demonstrated an association between prolonged breastfeeding and postmenopausal risk factors for cardiovascular (CV) disease.
  • The World Cancer Research Fund includes breastfeeding as one of 10 recommendations to reduce the risk.
  • These illnesses all represent the greatest threats to women’s health across all ages.

Click here to see an overview of the evidence, including links to the most significant studies.

Emerging evidence suggests that breastfeeding has a positive impact on mother-baby relationships: breastfeeding releases certain hormones which promote maternal feelings and behaviour. Strong early relationships and a stable and loving environment are all conducive to babies’ healthy emotional, social and physical development, through production of the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin acts like a fertiliser for the brain, promoting the growth of neurons (brain cells) and the connections between them, enabling babies to grow into secure, happy children. For more information, consult our new leaflet, Building a happy baby.