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.

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