Breastfed kids 'develop fewer behavioural problems'Benefits of breastfeeding for four or more months

10 May 2011

Breast feeding

Babies that are breastfed appear to develop fewer behavioural problems as they grow up, according to a new study looking at link between breastfeeding and child behaviour at age five.

The research, undertaken by researchers from the Universities of Oxford, Essex, York and University College London, claims to have found ‘more evidence for the benefits of breastfeeding’. 

Fewer behavioural problems

Lead researcher Maria Quigley says, ‘We don’t know whether it's because of the constituents in breast milk which are lacking in formula, the close interaction with the mum during breastfeeding, or it's a knock-on effect of the reduced illness in breastfed babies. 

'But it begins to look like we can add fewer behavioural problems as another potential benefit of breastfeeding.’

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Benefits of breastfeeding

There are a number of well-known health benefits of breastfeeding: breastfed babies have lower rates of infections and mothers have a reduced risk of breast cancer.

The research team used a nationwide survey of babies born in a 12-month period between 2000 and 2001 called the Millennium Cohort Study. When the researchers adjusted their data to take account of social differences between mothers who breastfeed their babies and those who use formula milk they found there was 'still a 30% lower risk of behaviour problems associated with prolonged breastfeeding.’

Breast pumps

But the researchers recognise that breastfeeding a child can be a struggle, suggesting: ‘Mothers who want to breastfeed should be given all the support they need. Many women struggle to breastfeed for as long as they might otherwise like.’

Many mums choose to express milk using a breast pump if they are unable or unavailable to breast feed in the traditional way.

Which? baby product expert Victoria Pearson says: ‘At Which? we want to help parents make the best choices for their family, including making breast-feeding for longer as easy as possible, so we've reviewed seven of the latest breast pumps and rated them for factors including comfort of grip, ease of use and overall user satisfaction. 

See which breast pumps we recommend as Best Buys in our breast pumps review and how to find the best model for you in our guide to .

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