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A Journal on Pediatrics, Neonatology, Adolescent Medicine,
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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Minerva Pediatrica 2006 December;58(6):551-6

language: English

Breast-feeding. The roots

Ben-Nun L.

Department of Family Medicine Faculty of Health Sciences Soroka Hospital Medical Center Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Beer-Sheeva, Israel


Although breast milk provides the best nutrition for the infant, breast-feeding has been decreasing with the growth in use of prepared milk formulas. This paper evaluates the available biblical literature dealing with breast-feeding. The research is unique in character, as it combines contemporary medical knowledge with presentation of cases taken from ancient history. We include no commentaries, but refer only to the words of the Bible exactly as written. Biblical texts relating to breast-feeding were examined and the cases of biblical characters who were breast-fed were studied. The great historical figures such as Isaac, Rebecca, Moses, Samuel, and Joash were breast-fed, openly or secretly. If the biological mother was unable to nurse her child, a wet nurse took over the feeding. Breast-feeding was the only way infants could survive at that time. Weaning day was very important and was celebrated. The wet nurse played an important role in family life, in some cases remaining to live with the infant after weaning, through childhood and even into adulthood. In spite of advanced technology that provides artificial infant formulas, contemporary mothers, just like biblical mothers, should be encouraged to breast-feed their infants.

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