Research found that breastfeeding is linked to a child's behaviour. Scientists claim that children who are breastfed a more likely to have lesser behaviourial problems than those who don't!
In May 2011, a study revealed a positive truth about breast-feeding. The British research, published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood Journal, showed that babies who are breast-fed are less likely to grow into children with behavior problems by the time they reach the age of five than those who receive formula milk.
Maria Quigley of the national perinatal epidemiology unit at Oxford University, who led the work, said the findings "provide even more evidence for the benefits of breast-feeding."
"Mothers who want to breast-feed should be given all the support they need. Many women struggle to breast-feed for as long as they might otherwise like, and many don't receive the support that might make a difference," she said in a statement.
Presently, breast-feeding is well known to lower rates of infections, and mothers who breastfeed have a reduced risk of breast cancer. A variety of other health and child development benefits have also been suggested - such as lower levels of obesity and this recent effect on a child's behaviour. However, the British team said evidence for these have been inconsistent across different studies.
In this study, researchers from the universities of Oxford, Essex, York and from University College London used a nationwide British survey of babies born in 2000-2001 called the Millennium Cohort Study and included data for more than 9,500 mothers and babies born at full term to families of white ethnic background. They used data on whether mothers had breast-fed and how long for and combined these with the results of the "strengths and difficulties" questionnaire used for identifying children with possible behavioral problems.
They found abnormal scores for the questionnaires, which indicate potential behavioral problems, were less common in children breast-fed for at least four months -- at 6 percent --than in formula fed children -- at 16 percent. The lower risk of a full-term breast-fed child having abnormal scores for behavior was also evident even when the researchers took into account other important influences such as socio-economic or parental factors.
The researchers said one possible reason for the findings was that breast milk contains large amounts of essential long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, growth factors and hormones which are important in brain and nervous system development.
The results might also be explained by the fact that breast-feeding leads to more interaction between mother and child and better learning of acceptable behaviors, they said.
What it means for you:
Although the research is still inconclusive, it is positive that the possibility of breastfeeding lowering the behavioral problems in children is high. Breastfeeding has always been known as a good way for mums to bond with their infants.
Peter Kinderman, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Liverpool, who was not involved in the study, said: 'positive bonding between parent and child is known to be fantastically helpful for development.'
He continued to add, 'this is more evidence of the importance of breast-feeding and mother-baby attachment, not just for physical health but also for the psychological development of the child."
Many mums here are advocates of breastfeeding. If you are one of them, share with us your opinions and experiences. Are there any additional benefits which we have yet to hear about?
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