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Breastfed Children Found to Have Fewer Behavioral Problems

Scientists from Oxford University found out that breastfed babies are less likely to develop behavioral problems upon reaching age 5 compared to formula-milk babies.

Using a “strengths and difficulties” questionnaire, British researchers discovered that abnormal scores were common in children who were not breastfed for at least four months. Lead researcher Maria Quigley said these findings “provide even more evidence for the benefits of breastfeeding.”

“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 and many don’t receive the support that might make a difference,” Ms. Quigley added.

Breastfeeding is also popular for promoting lower rates of infection in babies. Mothers, in turn, enjoy a reduced likelihood of developing breast cancer as a result of breastfeeding.

In addition, breastfed babies are at a lower risk for obesity. Other health and child development benefits have been put forward, but the British team said the evidence for these conclusions have been inconsistent so far.

The abnormal scores in the questionnaires indicate potential behavioral problems at a rate of 16 percent for non-breastfed babies compared to 6 percent for babies breastfed for at least 4 months.

“We’re not necessarily talking about tear-away, unmanageable 5-year-old kids,” Ms. Quigley explained. “It might be unusual anxiousness, restlessness, inability to socialize with other children or play fully in groups.”

Breastfeeding offers more interaction between the mother and her baby, allowing the latter to better learn acceptable behaviors, the British researchers expounded.

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