New study finds link between breastfeeding and good behaviour

New study finds link between breastfeeding and good behaviour

A new study funded by the Canadian government has linked breastfeeding to better behavior in school aged children. Learn more here!

According to a study financed by the Canadian government and conducted in South Africa, children who are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their development display better behaviour in the primary school years (ages 5-12).

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The study, published in the PLOS Medical Journal,  analysed around 1,500 children and drew comparisons between the length of which they were breastfed, and indications of behavioural disorders between the formative ages of 7 and eleven.

What researchers found was that children who were exclusively fed breast milk during the first six months of development -- as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) -- were 56 percent less likely to display characteristics of  behavioural disorders than the children who breastfed for less than one month.

"The duration of exclusive breastfeeding of an infant has greater importance than previously realised in several areas of development," said Tamsen Rochat of the Human Science Research Council in Durban, South Africa.

Tamsen went on to attribute some of the variables of the study and how they can directly affect childhood conduct problems. Of those variables, Tamsen notes social problems. For example, crime and violence. He notes also notes that poor long-term mental health and low academic achievement, can be attributed to the findings.

Another interesting finding of this study was that younger children who were enrolled daycare for at least one year were 74 percent more likely to achieve higher executive functions, enabling them to plan, concentrate and remember instructions and directions. Children who received stimulation at home as opposed to daycare were only 36 percent more likely to achieve the same high executive functions.

Researchers and authors of the study said of this additional finding: "The brain needs these skills to prioritise tasks, filter out distractions and achieve goals."

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The study also analysed a number of environmental factors that could influence child development. What researchers found was that children were two-and-a-half times more likely to develop behavioural problems if their mothers showed signs of mental health issues or severe parenting stress. In short, the environmental and social problems that afflict the participants' mothers, directly affected them.

There's still more research to be conducted to prove the value of these findings, but for now, a rough conclusion exists to support the idea that babies who are breastfed can benefit in terms of social function and behavioural patterns.

This story was originally reported by ABS-CBN News

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