An intriguing new study, as posted on Yahoo! today, (http://news.yahoo.com/s/hsn/20081029/hl_hsn/breastfedbabymaymeanbetterbehavedchild): “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. . . . 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.”
We’re not surprised by this finding, as other studies suggest that breastfed children weather stress better, for example divorce. It also makes sense when considering that breastfeeding protects the mother against post-partum depression, and that breastfeeding mothers report feeling more rested and getting an average of 45 minutes more sleep a night. (See the amazing and lesser-known facts on our home page). The fact is, that breastfeeding, especially when it is adequately supported and moms can get off to a good start, is tremendously soothing and balancing for both babes, i.e. mom and baby.
Is this a cause for guilt if you did not want to or could not breastfeed? No, but it is an opportunity to explore what the obstacles were that kept you trying or succeeding. It is an opportunity to fight the barriers that trip moms up, like insufficient maternity leave, hospitals that give “breast is best” lip service but don’t follow through, and discrimination and disapproval everywhere a new mom turns. It is an opportunity to help other mothers so they would not have to suffer through a rocky start like I did.
And that is a behavior worth applauding.