Adding fuel to the breast vs. bottle debate, a new study out of Oxford University has found that babies who are breastfed are less likely to develop behavior problems by the age of 5 than those who are formula-fed, reports Reuters.
The study, published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood journal, used a “strengths and difficulties” questionnaire completed by parents about their children. Researchers found that babies breastfed for at least 4 months were 30 percent less likely to show a range of behavioral problems by age 5.
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Researchers from the universities of Oxford, Essex, York, and from University College London used the Millennium Cohort Study, a nationwide British survey of babies born in 2000-2001, and included data for over 9,500 moms and full-term babies of white ethnic background. Using data on whether the mothers had breastfed and for how long, combined with their answers to the “strengths and difficulties” questionnaire used to identify kids with possible behavioral problems, they found that only 6 percent of children who were breastfed for at least 4 months had abnormal scores (which indicate potential behavioral problems like unusual anxiety, restlessness, difficulty socializing with other kids or playing in groups), as opposed to 16 percent of children who were formula-fed. The researchers said that they took into account other important influences such as socioeconomic or parental factors.
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The researchers explained that one theory behind the findings is that breast milk contains lots of essential long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, growth factors and hormones which aid in brain and nervous system development. Another explanation for the findings may be based in greater interaction and bonding between mother and baby during breastfeeding.
What’s your reaction to these findings? Do you think breastfeeding can make for better behavior in kids?