Breastfeeding cements mother’s bond with baby

January 27th, 2009 - 1:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Jan 27 (IANS) Breastfeeding cements a mother’s bond with her baby and prevents mothers from neglecting them in later life, the latest findings have confirmed. Previous research, which Lane Strathearn, University of Queensland (UQ) paediatrician also incorporated in his findings, found the reward centres of a mother’s brain lit up when she saw her own baby smiling.

By linking data from the University of Queensland (UQ) Study of Pregnancy - Australia’s largest longitudinal study tracking mothers and their children - Strathearn found that breastfeeding mothers were less likely to neglect their children.

“Mothers who didn’t breastfeed were almost four times more likely to be reported for maternal neglect than mothers who breastfed for four of more months,” he said.

“For mothers who breastfed for less than four months, the risk was about 2.3 times.”

In what is believed to be the first population study to provide statistics on the rate of child abuse in Australia, seven percent of children were identified as victims of maltreatment.

Of the 7,223 children in the birth cohort, 512 were confirmed cases of maltreatment, with the mother identified as the perpetrator 60 percent of the time, said an UQ release.

While it was impossible to conduct a random trial, Strathearn said breastfeeding offered a realistic explanation. “The difficulty with this research subject is that you can’t randomly assign a woman to breastfeed her baby and another one not to, so there’s always potential for bias,” he said.

“But, these results make sense biologically because breastfeeding is associated with oxytocin release, and we know from animal studies that oxytocin is produced in the brain and helps activate areas of the brain that are involved in maternal care and behaviour.

The study is scheduled for publication in the February issue of Paediatrics.

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