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What about Breastfeeding? A Pediatrician's Perspective

What about Breastfeeding? A Pediatrician's Perspective

What about Breastfeeding? A Pediatrician’s perspective


Dr. Martijn Tilanus is a Pediatrician at the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC). After completing his medical studies at the University Hospital of Utrecht, he immediately was intrigued in the field of pediatrics. He did clinical rotations in the Netherlands, Curacao and Germany. When he received his certificate as a European-registered pediatrician, Dr. Tilanus decided to return to the Caribbean, this time to St. Maarten.


The 36 year old pediatrician is very pleased to have the opportunity to assist in providing health care to the children of St. Maarten. His colleague, Dr. Offringa, has been active for more than 2 decades on this island and his experience is inspiring for all new co-workers, like Dr. Tilanus, who started at SMMC in June 2013.


This week as the St. Maarten community recognizes World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7th, Dr. Tilanus gives some insight to the importance of breastfeeding to child development.


Why Dr Tilanus is Pro-Breastfeeding


Breastfeeding is the most important and balanced feeding of every newborn. The content of breast milk supplies all the daily requirements in (healthy) term newborns.


Breast milk is made up of a variety of micronutrients: amino-acids (proteins), carbohydrates, fats and vitamins. Also, several (protective) immunoglobulins are present in substantial quantities. These support the undeveloped immune system of the baby.


Breast milk is important

For growth-In the first year of life the process of growing is highly dependant on the presence of enough proteins. The amount of protein present in the milk of the mother provides enough, at least for those born at full term.

For the delivery of enough energy- About 50% of this energy demand comes from the fat in the breast milk. Fat in the breast milk contains fatty-acids. These are essential in the further development of the central nervous system.

For how long breastfeeding be encouraged?


Experts have emphasized that at least the first 6 months of life breast milk should be the feeding of first choice. After that the young child can get other products (more solid foods), including fruits, vegetables and meat.


Advantages of Breast feeding over Bottle feeding


-     Breast feeding is essential for a good mother and child interaction. This is also a major reason to promote breastfeeding.

-     Newborns often cry because of so-called (infantile) colics, also known as cramps.
Breast fed infants usually have much less complaints of these unpleasant colics.

-     It is also quite obvious that breast fed children have much less allergies as they grow older. Even more so, eczema (a chronic recurring skin-inflammation) seems to be less present those who were breast fed.


Many other advances can be mentioned. With a lot of information so readily available nowadays, I would suggest reading more on these topics to your own interest to learn more about the advantages of breastfeeding.


Can breastfeeding also work for prematurely born babies?


Yes for sure. We must be aware however, that after 34 weeks (normal delivery is between 37 and 40 weeks) the child starts to develop the process of sucking and swallowing. To overcome this feeding difficulty in premature babies, most of them are fed initially with a so-called nasogastric-tube. If the mother is willing to give her own breast milk, she can collect it by expressing and then feed her young infant via the small tube. In time the newborn will learn how to drink on its own and finally the nasogastric tube will not be required any longer.


In case your child is admitted on our neonatology ward (newborn or incubator-room) at SMMC, experienced nurses will assist and guide the parents and child through the process of ‘normal’ feeding.


Dr. Tilanus have consultations in the outpatient clinic at St. Maarten Medical Center and also provide care to newborns and children on the pediatric ward.


His office hours are Monday to Friday from 9:00am– 12:00pm and from 1:30pm – 3:00pm. No appointment needed. SZV patients require a referral letter for a visit.

For further inquiries, Dr. Tilanus can be reached via phone: +1721-543 1111 ext.1303.




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