A large scale study shows that women who breastfeed their infants are less likely to neglect them.
The fifteen-year study included 7,223 Australian children. The mothers, of an average age of 25, were separated into three groups: 40 percent breastfed for four months, 40 percent for less than four months, and 20 percent did not breastfeed.
‘This is the first study that has looked at maltreatment,’ senior study author Lane Strathearn said last week. ‘The longer a mother breastfeeds, the lower her risk is of neglecting her infant.’
Women who did not breastfeed their children at all were four times more likely to neglect their children, even after adjusting for factors such as low socioeconomic status and education.
This would be one of those chicken and egg studies: Are certain types of women who become mothers more likely to breastfeed, or does a certain type of bonding take place because of breastfeeding?
Oh, yeah, the study’s findings will be controversial. Joan Wolf, a Texas A &M professor who has written extensively on the breastfeeding battles between women, agrees that the results are “probably right”. She points to the difference between “can’t” breastfeed and “won’t”.
The research is currently in the online edition of the journal Pediatrics and will be in print form in February.
Image: Raphael Goetter on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.