London: Babies who are breastfed are less likely to grow into children with behavior problems by the time they reach the age of five than those who receive formula milk, scientists said on Tuesday.In a study in the Archives of Disease in Childhood journal, British researchers used a "strengths and difficulties" questionnaire completed by parents about their children and found that abnormal scores were less common in children who were breastfed for at least four months.Maria Quigley of the national perinatal epidemiology unit at Oxford University, who led the work, said the findings "provide even more evidence for the benefits of breastfeeding.""Mothers who want to breastfeed should be given all the support they need. Many women struggle to breastfeed for as long as they might otherwise like, and many don`t receive the support that might make a difference," she said in a statement.
They found abnormal scores for the questionnaires, which indicate potential behavioral problems, were less common in children breastfed for at least four months -- at 6 percent --than in formula fed children -- at 16 percent.The lower risk of a full-term breastfed child having abnormal scores for behavior was also evident even when the researchers took into account other important influences such as socio-economic or parental factors."We`re not necessarily talking about tearaway, unmanageable five-year-old kids," said Quigley. "It might be unusual anxiousness, restlessness, inability to socialize with other children or play fully in groups."The researchers said one possible reason for the findings was that breast milk contains large amounts of essential long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, growth factors and hormones which are important in brain and nervous system development.The results might also be explained by the fact that breastfeeding leads to more interaction between mother and child and better learning of acceptable behaviors, they said.Peter Kinderman, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Liverpool, who was not involved in the study, said it was a good piece of research with important findings."Positive bonding between parent and child is known to be fantastically helpful for development," he said. "This is more evidence of the importance of breastfeeding and mother-baby attachment, not just for physical health but also for the psychological development of the child."Bureau Report
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