2006_6_health_mothersmilk.jpgIf milk does a body good, mother's milk seems to do worlds of it. Yesterday, the NY Times explored the science of breast-feeding, from its ability to strengthen the mother-baby bond to strengthening the baby's immune system. The benefits of suckling at the teat have been kicked around for years. Other gains to be made include reducing a baby's risk of developing obesity, asthma, diabetes, and even cancers later in life, including leukemia and lymphoma. Kids who are breast fed also tend to score higher on IQ tests, avoid some autoimmune disease and can dodge certain infections thanks to antibodies passed along in the milk that mommy has herself been building up all her life.

And there's good news for moms too: breast-feeding can keep one from ovulating which (in addition to obvious immediate benefits) is associated with a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. This is thought to result from decreased estrogen levels during lactation.

The trouble is, despite this growing pile of evidence in favor of the practice, PC thugs are a little worried because a campaign to encourage breast-feeding may make women who are unable to do so feel inadequate and guilty. We wonder if they would also hold back on advising people to eat healthier or hit the gym out of fear of making people feel bad that they can't afford either. Breast feeding rates apparently increase with education, income, and age. Black women do it less frequently than most while Hispanics breast-feed often.

While manufactured formula is the second best option for those can't breast-feed, despite being modeled after human, it is still doesn’t hold up against the real thing. Though it's a great pinch-hitter for when mom is taking a medication which may get into her milk or has a disease, like HIV, which may also end up there.

But what we really want to know, and you knew this was coming, are your thoughts on public breast-feeding. We understand that we live in a more puritan country than we like to admit sometimes but is it really that offensive and disgusting when a woman whips it out on a park bench, on the bus, or on line at the Shake Shack? Maybe the City should provide more public breast-feeding stations - maybe with a little curtain and R&B music? Or maybe just ban it all together? What do you think?

So breast-feed if you can, in public if you must, and maybe your kid won't end up a chubbo.