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How breastfeeding improves mom-baby bond until age 11

How breastfeeding improves mom-baby bond until age 11

by Wendy Wright

A month ago


Women who breastfeed their children longer exhibit more maternal sensitivity well past the infant and toddler years, according to a 10-yearlong study.

Mothers in the study, published in the journal Developmental Psychology, who breastfed for an average of 17 weeks, were observed for their sensitivity to younger children’s emotional signals, affection and intrusiveness. Mothers of older children were rated on supportiveness, respect for their independence and any hostility. They found the longer women had breastfed, the more sensitive they were on average over the following years.

Earlier research has shown breastfeeding mothers touch their babies more often and interact with them more.

However there have been few studies on how breastfeeding affects mothers’ relationships with their children years later.

Researchers, including those from Boise State University in the US, interviewed and videotaped families in their homes periodically until their child turned 11.  “It was surprising to us that breastfeeding duration predicted change over time in maternal sensitivity,” said Jennifer Weaver from Boise State University.

Lead author Dr Jennifer Weaver, from Boise State University in the US, said the results were "surprising", adding: "We had prior research suggesting a link between breastfeeding and early maternal sensitivity, but nothing to indicate we would continue to see effects significantly beyond the period when breastfeeding had ended." The study, published in the journal Developmental Psychology, was adjusted for women’s education and parenting attitudes to avoid skewing the results .

The study adds: "Breastfeeding has been linked to both activation of brain regions associated with care-giving and the release of oxytocin, a critical hormone linked to social competence and adequate caregiving."



Breastfeeding improves mothers’ sensitivity


Women who breastfeed their children longer exhibit more maternal sensitivity well past the infant and toddler years, according to a 10-yearlong study.

In the study, published in the journal Developmental Psychology, women breastfed for an average of 17 weeks.

Fewer than one per cent breastfed for 24 months and 29 per cent did not breastfeed at all. Researchers, including those from Boise State University in the US, interviewed and videotaped families in their homes periodically until their child turned 11.

“It was surprising to us that breastfeeding duration predicted change over time in maternal sensitivity,” said Jennifer Weaver from Boise State University.

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