Study Suggests Prolonged Breastfeeding Improves Mental Health

The idea that a stronger bond may be created between a mother and her child if breastfeeding is performed during the first few month’s of a baby’s life has been supported for some time, though the precise effects of breastfeeding on the mental health of children and adolescents has been largely unknown. A recent study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, however, has endeavored to discover this link and has shown that mothers who breastfed for longer than six months had children who consistently exhibited improved behavior and mental health at regular intervals until the age of fourteen. The work may help developmental psychologists and child therapists understand the roots of some types of mental health issues in children.

© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

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  • Jonathan Woodgate

    Jonathan Woodgate

    January 14th, 2010 at 4:46 AM

    Whoa…this is a suprise! It is very intruging to know that a bond can bolster mental health of a child…incredible indeed!

  • Donna

    Donna

    January 14th, 2010 at 5:27 AM

    I guess it must be the presence of the mother’s hormones and antibodies n the breast milk that makes such a difference in how well breast fed children do. It pains me that there are more mothers who choose not to breast feed, primarily they say because of the inconveniences that it can cause. But what inconvenience? There are pumps and if you get on a regular feeing schedule then you simply work around it. From all of the benefits that come from breastfeeding, why would you not at least make an effort to do it for a little while? Every little bit helps.

  • ernie

    ernie

    January 14th, 2010 at 1:31 PM

    Breast milk contains a lot of nutrients and other things that play a major role in the health of an infant.No baby food can be a substitute to this.

  • nan

    nan

    January 14th, 2010 at 2:01 PM

    Totally right- there is no substitue for mother’s milk with a newborn

  • Gina

    Gina

    January 16th, 2010 at 1:33 PM

    This is such an important message that needs to be stressed to mothers everywhere. When you have a child that child needs you for everything and that includes breast milk, and the longer that you can do it the better the baby will be. I know that there are some great formulas out there and that breastfeeding does not happen for everyone, but it is the best and most reliable option available and it baffles me why more mothers do not choose to make this a part of the bonding experience with their baby. There is no stigma to it, no taboo, and most places are very open about being welcoming to nursing families. Doctors need to play a larger role in emphasizing the importance of breastfeeding and get more people on board with the idea. It was good enough for our parents and it still is today.

  • Amanda Rowan

    Amanda Rowan

    February 2nd, 2010 at 1:36 PM

    I am a therapist and a mother who believes in and has done extended breastfeeding. I firmly believe that the nutritional benefits of breast milk are just a sliver of its value. More importantly, the physical contact and sensation of being held that breast feed provided has an immediate soothing/regulating effect on a child. This ability to be calmed by another, I believe, wires these children to grow with a sense of security that other kids do not get.

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