Better Behavior for Breastfed Babies?

Here is another study done on breastfeeding that suggests that breastfed babies grow up to have better behavior. To be honest, I am highly skeptical of this study. Not of the results but at their conclusion. I wouldn’t be shocked if babies that are breastfed for extended periods of time are better behaved but I think the reason for this is probably less because of the breast milk that they consume and more because of their extended period of time in direct contact with their mothers.

It is difficult to breastfeed a baby for an extended period as a working mother. It happens but it requires a lot of time and commitment from the mom and cooperation from her body and her work. Unfortunately, those combined factors result in most working mothers having to switch to formula shortly after returning to work.

My point being is that most babies that are breastfed for long periods of time have mothers who stay home with them. They typically (though not always) receive more one-on-one care as compared to being in a childcare facility and they tend to form better attachments than their daycare counterparts. I’m no scientist but I would guess that this has a bigger bearing on behavior than on the breast milk. That and other factors that would be linked to the relationship of breastfeeding and not the milk itself. This is coming from a mom who breastfed her daughter for nearly 3 years so I’m not trying to advocate that it isn’t worth it. And who knows maybe there is some magic behavior bullet in the milk. If so, perhaps I should begin nursing my daughter again because let’s just say her behavior is not all peaches and roses lately. She is a very typical obnoxiously disobedient three year old. :) And yes, I’m joking. There will be no more nursing for Camden.

Here is the article and here is the source.

Breast-Fed Baby May Mean Better Behaved Child

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 29 (HealthDay News) — Add yet another potential benefit to breast-feeding: Fewer behavioral problems in young children.

Parents of youngsters who were breast-fed as infants were less likely to report that their child had a behavior problem or psychiatric illness during the first five years of life, a new study found.

And the likelihood of mental health issues decreased in proportion to the duration of breast-feeding, meaning that a child who had been breast-fed for a year was less likely to have behavior problems than a child who had been breast-fed for just two months.

“This is an early finding, but it suggests that breast-feeding during infancy could have an effect on behavior during childhood,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Katherine Hobbs Knutson, a resident in the department of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

She was to present the findings Wednesday at the American Public Health Association‘s annual meeting, in San Diego.

Previous research has shown that breast milk offers numerous benefits for babies and that breast-feeding can benefit both mother and infant. Babies who are breast-fed are less likely to suffer from ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, wheezing, and bacterial and viral illnesses, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Research has also linked breast-feeding with a reduced risk of obesity, diabetes, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and certain cancers, according to the AAP.

For mothers, breast-feeding helps the uterus quickly return to its pre-pregnancy shape and helps burn additional calories, which can help get rid of extra pregnancy weight, the AAP reports. Additionally, breast-feeding is believed to help nurture the mother-child bond.

The new study reviewed more than 100,000 interviews of parents and guardians of children between the ages of 10 months and 18 years who participated in the National Survey of Children’s Health. Parents were asked about breast-feeding and about their child’s behavior and mental health.

Examples of questions included: Are you currently concerned a lot, a little or not at all about how your child behaves? How he/she is learning pre-school or school skills? Has a doctor or health professional ever told you that your child has behavioral or conduct problems?

Parents of children who were breast-fed were 15 percent less likely to be concerned about their child’s behavior, compared to formula-fed infants. And the breast-fed children were 37 percent less likely to have a medically diagnosed behavioral or conduct problem, according to the study.

And, Knutson said, the effect of breast-feeding appeared to be cumulative, with those who were breast-fed for a longer duration even less likely to have behavior problems.

She also said the study found “a correlation between breast-feeding and cognitive development.”

“These findings are certainly intriguing,” said Dr. Debra Bogen, a pediatrician in the division of general academic pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

The study adds to the “overwhelming evidence that women should, if they can, offer breast milk to their babies,” she added.

Both Bogen and Knutson said the nutritional composition of breast milk might have an effect on the way a baby’s brain develops, and that better nutrition could explain the behavioral differences. But both experts felt it was too soon to know for sure the exact cause of the potentially protective effect.

More information

For more on the benefits of breast-feeding, visit the National Women’s Health Information Center.


Study Reveals How Breastfeeding Transfers Immunity

A combined research team from BYU, Harvard and Stanford have conducted a study on how breastmilk transfers immunity from mother to baby. The study is set to appear in the November 1st issue of the Journal of Immunology. They have identified that a molecule by the name of CCR10 helps to direct antibody producing cells to the mothers mammary glands thus entering her milk and transferring to the baby.

The research gives amazing insight but once again I am flustered at the reasoning behind the study. Vaccines. I’m sure the formula industry will try to hop on this once they find a way to utilize it. All of these things aren’t inherently bad, I just find it frustrating that the information is not being used to convince more women to breastfeed or the importance of breastfeeding. Rather, the mentality is how can we reproduce the results?

I do have to say that the idea of vaccinating the mom to transfer the immunity to the baby is a fairly fascinating idea. I certainly wouldn’t volunteer to be the test case but it is interesting to think about.

Here is the article. Original source from HERE.

How Breastfeeding Transfers Immunity To Babies

ScienceDaily (Oct. 27, 2008) — A BYU-Harvard-Stanford research team has identified a molecule that is key to mothers’ ability to pass along immunity to intestinal infections to their babies through breast milk.

The study highlights an amazing change that takes place in a mother’s body when she begins producing breast milk. For years before her pregnancy, cells that produce antibodies against intestinal infections travel around her circulatory system as if it were a highway and regularly take an “off-ramp” to her intestine. There they stand ready to defend against infections such as cholera or rotavirus. But once she begins lactating, some of these same antibody-producing cells suddenly begin taking a different “off-ramp,” so to speak, that leads to the mammary glands. That way, when her baby nurses, the antibodies go straight to his intestine and offer protection while he builds up his own immunity.

This is why previous studies have shown that formula-fed infants have twice the incidence of diarrheal illness as breast-fed infants.

Until now, scientists did not know how the mother’s body signaled the antibody-producing cells to take the different off-ramp. The new study identifies the molecule that gives them the green light.

“Everybody hears that breastfeeding is good for the baby,” said Eric Wilson, the Brigham Young University microbiologist who is the lead author on the study. “But why is it good? One of the reasons is that mothers’ milk carries protective antibodies which shield the newborn from infection, and this study demonstrates the molecular mechanisms used by the mother’s body to get these antibody-producing cells where they need to be.”

Understanding the role of the molecule, called CCR10, also has implications for potential future efforts to help mothers better protect their infants.

“This tells us that this molecule is extremely important, so if we want to design a vaccine for the mother so she could effectively pass protective antibodies to the child, it would be absolutely essential to induce high levels of CCR10,” said Wilson.

Speaking broadly about the long-term applications of this research, BYU undergraduate Elizabeth Nielsen Low, a co-author on the paper, said, “If we know how these cells migrate, we’ll be able to hit the right targets to get them to go where we want them.”

Daniel Campbell is a researcher at the Benroya Research Institute in Seattle, a nonprofit organization that specializes in the immune system, and was not affiliated with this study.

“The molecular basis for this redistribution [of the mother’s cells] has not been well characterized, but Dr. Wilson’s work has begun to crack that code and define the molecules responsible for this cellular redistribution and passive immunity,” Campbell said. “It is important work that fundamentally enhances our understanding of how immunity is provided to the [baby] via the milk. Dr. Wilson’s study will certainly form the basis for many other studies aimed at uncovering how the immune system is organized, particularly at mucosal surfaces.”

To conduct their research, the team used so-called “knock-out mice” that had been genetically engineered to lack the CCR10 molecule. Whereas normal lactating mice had hundreds of thousands of antibody-producing cells in their mammary glands, the BYU team found that the knock-out mice had more than 70 times fewer such cells. Tests verified that the absence of CCR10 was responsible for the deficiency.

Surprisingly, the research also showed that CCR10 does not play the same crucial role in signaling antibody-producing cells to migrate to the intestine. Another molecule is their “traffic light.”

The findings will be published in the Nov. 1 issue of the Journal of Immunology.

The study was supported by Wilson’s grant from the National Institutes of Health, funding which continues for another 18 months and supports his and his students’ further investigation into the cells behind transfer of immunity in breast milk.

Wilson’s other students who are also co-authors on the paper are Yuetching Law, Kathryn Distelhorst and Erica D. Hill. The Harvard Medical School co-authors are Olivier Morteau, Craig Gerard, Bao Lu, Sorina Ghiran and Miriam Rits. The Stanford University School of Medicine co-authors are Raymond Kwan, Nicole H. Lazarus and Eugene C. Butcher.