by Pamela Douglas
“What happens after a woman gives birth should be a matter of serious public interest. Screaming babies, breast pain, baby weight-gain worries, breastfeeding issues, wind, colic, reflux, allergies, tongue tie, sleep deprivation, and parental anxiety and depression. These are common concerns at the beginning of the life of every Australian citizen.
In reflecting on these, we’re actually considering the developmental origins of disease. This is so for many reasons, including that the infant gut microbiome affects metabolism and immunity even as an adult; and that postnatal depression has long term effects on a child’s cognitive potential and mental health.
Throughout the developed world, non communicable diseases are now the majpr cause of illness and death in children, mirroring trends in adults. Among these, immune, gut, developmental disorders and mental illness feature prominently. All are shaped by environmental factors in very early life.
Yet, our health professionals often recommend approaches to behaviour problems in infants — such as with breastfeeding, crying, and fussing, or sleep — that have been demonstrated to be ineffective. Some recommendations actually risk worse health outcomes for both the mother and baby.”
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