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Breastfeeding lowers risk of behavioural problems: Study

Children breastfed for first six months exhibit better mental health

Policy Pulse
Publish Date: Jun 23 2016 1:09PM | Updated Date: Jun 23 2016 1:09PM

Breastfeeding lowers risk of behavioural problems: Study

Breastfed children tend to develop fewer behavioural problems, reveals a recent study focusing on the early experiences of children and their influences on later behaviour and abilities. 


Evidence suggests that breastfeeding has numerous health benefits for children. It is already associated with other health benefits for babies, including lower rates of infection and less obesity in later life. It leaves a direct effect on physiological and psychological health of infants as well. 


Repetitive inappropriate behaviour which occurs over a period of time adds up to behavioural problems that commence in infancy and persists till teenage life. This results in poor long-term mental health and low academic achievement in later life.


As compared to those exclusively breastfed for less than one month, the findings showed that children who were exclusively breastfed for the recommended first six months were approximately half as likely to have conduct disorders at the ages of 7-11 years.


One of the possible explanations is that breast milk contains large amounts of essential fatty acids, which are known to have an important role in the development and function of the brain and central nervous system. 


For the research — published in PLOS Medicine, a weekly medical journal — the team assessed over 1,500 children in South Africa, 900 of whom had been involved in an early infant feeding study.


Tamsen J Rochat, the lead author of the Human Science Research Council, Durban, South Africa, said, “The duration of exclusive breastfeeding of an infant has greater importance than previously realised in several areas of development.”