The Daily mail reports on a study done in Australia by the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research that breast-fed babies grow into happier children.
Infants fed on their mother’s milk for at least six months have ‘significantly better mental health’ than those given formula feeds.
Breast-fed babies were also less likely to exhibit problems such as anti-social behaviour and delinquency.
The researchers said breast milk appears to play an important role in the growth of the brain during a child’s first year, and experts yesterday urged more women to breast-feed for longer than six months.
Government advice is for women to breast-feed for at least that time to provide the nutrients a child needs. But Britain has one of the lowest rates of breast-feeding in Europe with a third of women stopping within six weeks of giving birth.
The study was conducted by scientists who tracked the development of 2,500 children in Australia over 16 years. The team, from the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Perth, analysed the children for mental or behavioural problems at various ages.
They found that children who were breast-fed for less than six months were 55 per cent more likely to have mental health problems by the time they were six than those breast-fed for longer.
However, this fell to 37 per cent by the time children were ten. The study also found that children who were not breast-fed for six months or more were 61 per cent more likely to exhibit problems, such as anti-social behaviour, by the time they were eight.
Dr Wendy Oddy, who led the study, suggested there may be ‘bioactive factors in breast milk’ which produced better-adjusted children.
‘Even when we take into account other factors such as the parents’ socio-economic situation, their education, their happiness and family functioning, we see that children that were breast-fed for at least six months are at lower risk of mental health problems,’ she said.
Dr Oddy added that children who were breast-fed had ‘particularly lower rates of delinquent, aggressive and anti-social behaviour, and overall were less depressed, anxious or withdrawn’ in later life.
Rosie Dodds, of the National Childbirth Trust, backed the call. ‘We need to make society welcoming of a woman’s right to breastfeed in public places,’ she said.
Other studies have shown that breast milk protects babies against stomach bugs, chest infections, asthma, eczema and allergies.
For many years mothers were told that breast-feeding children would boost their IQ. However, a study last month found it was the mother’s intelligence, which she passed on, rather than her milk that lay behind the trend.
I have never read on negative thing about breastfeeding. It amazes me that more people don’t do it. It’s free, always available and always the right temperature. What more convience would you want while having a baby. No sterilization, prepping, warming – just pop it in and go!!