Breastfeeding may improve child behavior

New study shows yet another benefit.

In addition to saving more babies’ lives, breastfeeding also is tied to better behavior in children, according to new research.

A study in South Africa looked at 1,500 children and found that those who were exclusively breastfed for the first six months were less likely to have behavioral issues once they started school.

Researchers stated that breastfed children were half as likely to have issues with conduct. Conduct disorders, as defined by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, could include difficulty following rules, aggression and destruction of property.

“This study is encouraging and reinforces what we already know — that breastfeeding has many benefits for children,” said Elizabeth Doyle, M.D., director of lactation services for Norton Healthcare. “It certainly is a great starting point for additional research on the subject.”

Despite the multiple benefits of breastfeeding, Kentucky ranks 48th out of the 50 states in lowest breastfeeding rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2014 Report Card on Breastfeeding. Only West Virginia and Louisiana have lower rates.

In Kentucky, 61.3 percent of mothers have ever breastfed. The national average is 79.2. Six months after giving birth, only 31.5 percent of Kentucky moms are still breastfeeding.

“Breastfeeding decreases the incidence of an array of illnesses in babies, including ear infections, pneumonia, diarrhea/vomiting, leukemia, diabetes and sudden infant death syndrome, just to name a few,” Dr. Doyle said. “Breastfeeding also decreases a mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer, as well as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.”

In addition, infant formula is made from cow’s milk, which doesn’t contain important nutrients baby needs, while human milk is species-specific and ever-changing to meet the infant’s unique needs. It contains living cells that fight infections and heal injuries.

Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital is the first hospital in Greater Louisville, which includes Southern Indiana, to receive Baby-Friendly designation from the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. Staff at the hospital are committed to working with mothers who make the decision to breastfeed their babies.

The Baby Bistro & Boutique is a shop within Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital for new mothers wishing to breastfeed. It sells and rents breast pumps and parts, breastfeeding bras, breastfeeding pillows and many other breastfeeding supplies and support items.

Other services provided by Norton Healthcare Lactation Centers and Services, a part of Norton Women’s Care, include one-on-one assistance with breastfeeding issues including pumping and back-to-work consultations, individual prenatal consultations to prepare an expectant mother for breastfeeding and assistance with special needs infants, multiples and babies having difficulty with weight gain. Specialists also have the capability to perform an analysis to determine the fat and caloric content in breast milk.

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