|August 2, 2006
Breastfeeding's calming effects seem to be
Years after being weaned, breastfed children
cope better with stressful situations like their parents' divorce
than their bottle-fed peers, researchers said on Thursday.
"In children who are breast-fed, there is
less of an association between parental divorce and separation and
childhood anxiety," Dr Scott Montgomery, an epidemiologist at
the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said in an interview.
Breast milk is full of nutrients, hormones,
enzymes, growth factors and antibodies that are passed from mother
Research has shown breast-feeding reduces
infections, respiratory illness and diarrhea in the child and cuts
the risk of post-birth bleeding in the mother.
In an observation study published in the
journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, Montgomery and his team
studied how breast- and bottle-fed 10-year-olds coped with the
stress of their parents' marital problems.
The children were among 9,000 youngsters who
had been monitored from birth for a major British study. Their
teachers were asked to rate their anxiety level on a scale of 0 to
There was a higher level of stress in all the
children but the breastfed youngsters coped better.
"The anxiety was much less obvious in
children who were breastfed," Montgomery said.
The researchers do not know why breastfed
babies were less anxious. They suggested breastfeeding could be an
indicator of other parental factors or the physical contact between
the mother and the child may have helped to reduce anxiety.
Breastfeeding could also influence the
development of pathways in the body linked with its response to
"The more we look at breastfeeding, the
more benefits we see. As this is something that is, in evolutionary
terms, normal it is likely to be important in normal human
development," Montgomery said.