Breastfed Babies Are Better Behaved as Kids

Health & Wellness on 05.12.11


Photo: timlewisnm/Creative Commons 

A study from researchers at Oxford University might give you some added incentive to tough out those first few weeks of breastfeeding: In a survey of nearly 10,000 families, they found that babies who were breastfed for at least four months were better behaved in the years following.

In the study, reported by Science Daily, mothers filled out two questionnaires -- one when the child was 9 months old, which asked about breastfeeding, and a second when the child turned 5, which included standard questions meant to identify behavioral problems. In the group of babies who were breastfed for at least four months, 6.5 percent had scores that pointed toward behavioral problems; of the formal-fed group, 16.1 percent scored in that range.

"We're not necessarily talking about tearaway, unmanageable 5-year-old kids," said Maria Quigley, a researcher from Oxford's National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit who co-led the study. "It might be unusual anxiousness, restlessness, inability to socialise with other children or play fully in groups."

The group also accounted for differences in the mothers' backgrounds -- the ones who breastfed, Quigley says, were "more likely to be older, better educated, and in a higher socio-economic position, on average" -- and still found a 30 percent difference in the predicted behavioral problems.


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