Posts Tagged ‘ breastfeeding ’

Could Breastfeeding Enhance Kids’ Social Status?

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

The health benefits of breastfeeding are numerous and oft-discussed, and a new study is linking those benefits, specifically the cognitive development thought to be accelerated in breast-fed babies, with a higher social status later in life.  Time.com has more:

What does breast-feeding have to do with social status? According to the researchers from University College London, who reported their findings in the journal BMJ, breast-feeding can impact cognitive development, and that accounted for just over a third of nursing’s effect on improvements in social status. What’s more, the practice also seemed to lower the chances of downward mobility.

To assess the impact of breast-feeding on later social status, the researchers compared two cohorts of people, including more than 17,400 individuals born in 1958, and over 16,700 people born in 1970. When their kids were about 5 years old, mothers in both groups were asked if they had breast-fed their children. The researchers used the children’s fathers’ income and job to determine the youngsters’ initial social status when they were about 10 to 11 years old and compared this with their social status decades later, when they reached age 33 or 34. And to get some idea of the way in which breast-feeding might be influencing social status, the scientists also evaluated the children’s cognitive skills and stress responses when they were about 10 or 11.

Breast-feeding rates were lower among the participants born in 1970, but the breakdown of high social achievers in the two populations remained the same. For both groups, breast-feeding increased the odds of upward mobility — defined by the researchers on a 4-point scale ranging from unskilled/semiskilled manual to professional/managerial — by 24% and lowered the likelihood for downward social mobility by 20%. The effect was greatest for children who were breast-fed for more than four weeks, and the social-status gap was largest between those who were breast-fed for four weeks or more and those who received only formula. The breast-feeding effect held even after the researchers accounted for the obvious factors, such as broad socioeconomic influences including employment rates and national economic stability, as well as individual characteristics like parental education.

According to the authors, the benefits shown by the babies in cognitive and intellectual development could have helped them to climb up the social ladder, since they might have adapted more readily to new situations and accepted challenges; the brain testing also suggested that the breast-fed children were less likely to experience emotional stress and better able to cope with anxiety if they did.

But they acknowledge that their study could not tease apart whether this advantage resulted from the breast milk and its known nutrients and immune-system components, or from the intimate contact between mother and child that breast-feeding requires.

Image: Breastfeeding baby, via Shutterstock

 

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Venezuela Considering Baby Bottle Ban to Promote Breastfeeding

Friday, June 21st, 2013

In a move Venezuelan legislators hope will encourage women to breastfeed their babies, the Congress of that country is considering legislation that would prohibit the use of baby bottles and the sale of infant formula.  More from Reuters:

Legislator Odalis Monzon said the proposal would “prohibit all types of baby bottles” as a way to improve children’s health.

“We want to increase the love (between mother and child) because this has been lost as a result of these transnational companies selling formula,” Monzon said on state television on Thursday.

She said the Law for the Promotion and Support for Breast-Feeding, passed in 2007, did not establish any sanctions for using formula. However, she did not say what the sanctions might be if the proposed change to prohibit bottle feeding is passed by Congress, where the Socialist Party has a majority.

Monzon said, however, that exceptions would be allowed, such as in the case of the death of a mother, or for women with limited breast milk production, as determined by the health ministry.

She did not respond to phone calls seeking details, including how long babies would be breast-fed.

Such legislation would likely raise the ire of opposition sympathizers who say the government of the late President Hugo Chavez excessively extended the reach of the state into the lives of private citizens.

“People are free to feed their children as they see fit,” said Ingrid Rivero, a 27-year-old mother in Caracas. “My daughter stopped breast feeding after seven months. What can I do? Force her?”

Image: Baby bottle, via Shutterstock

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Scans Show Breast Milk May Be Good for the Brain

Monday, June 17th, 2013

MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, scans are showing that breastfeeding may have specific benefits for developing brains, according to a new study published online in the journal NeuroImage.  More from The New York Times:

[The study] found that compared with babies who received formula, breast-fed infants had increased development in white matter regions of the brain, including areas associated with planning, social and emotional functioning, motor ability and language. The differences were linked to better performance on tests of motor development and visual acuity.

The scientists studied 133 healthy children ages 10 months through 4 years in three groups: exclusively breast-fed, exclusively formula-fed, and those fed a combination of formula and breast milk….

….“I’m not saying if you didn’t breast-feed, you’re doomed,” said the lead author, Sean C. L. Deoni, an assistant professor of engineering at Brown University. “We couldn’t control for things like how much interaction a kid has with his parents, what kind of learning environment he lives in, and so on. There are a lot of factors that go into making a successful adult.”

Image: Breastfeeding baby, via Shutterstock

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Statistics Suggest Breastfeeding Has Cancer-Prevention Benefits

Monday, June 10th, 2013

A new analysis of health statistics published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology is suggesting that women who breastfeed their babies for at least a year–the recommended period for breastfeeding–may significantly lower their risk for breast cancer, heart disease, and hypertension, as well as saving the medical establishment hundreds of millions of dollars.  The findings, not based on new research, are sure to be controversial, as Time.com reports:

If new moms adhered to the recommended guidelines that urge them to breast-feed each child they give birth to for at least one year, they could theoretically stave off up to 5,000 cases of breast cancer, about 54,000 cases of hypertension and nearly 14,000 heart attacks annually.

Averting those diseases could also save $860 million, according to research published in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Those figures, while significant and intriguing, are not actual numbers from documented cases. Rather, they’re the result of a sophisticated statistical model used to compare the effect of current breast-feeding rates in the U.S. to ideal rates.

The study, led by Harvard researcher Dr. Melissa Bartick, simulated the experiences of about 2 million U.S. women from the time they were 15 until they turned 70, estimating outcomes and cumulative costs over the decades in between.

Number-crunchers ran the data applying current breast-feeding rates – about 25% of U.S. women breast-feed for the recommended 12 months per child — and again assuming that 90% of women embraced the guidelines. “To be totally scientifically accurate, those are costs for a cohort of women in a certain year,” says Bartick, an assistant professor of internal medicine at Harvard Medical School. “If breast-feeding rates change, the cost would be different.”

Still, she says, the point is that breast-feeding boosts mom’s health in a big way. “We know that 60% of women don’t even meet their personal breast-feeding goals, whether it’s three or four or six months,” says Bartick. “We need to do more to support women so they can breast-feed longer. There are thousands of needless cases of disease and death that could be prevented.”

Image: Breastfeeding mom, via Shutterstock
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Breast Milk-Flavored Lollipops Hit the Market

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Citing a desire to determine what it is that makes breast milk so inherently soothing to babies, a Texas-based candy company called Lollyphile has released a breast milk-flavored lollipop.  The candy is meant for consumption by both kids and adults who, they hope, might be able to reconnect with that comforting sensation.  More from Gawker.com:

“We felt it was our responsibility to find out just what this flavor was that could turn a screaming, furious infant into a placid, contented one,” the company, Lollyphile, wrote on their website.

Upset because you’re a vegan and therefore unable to relive the glory days of breast-milk? Fret not — these new pops are dairy-free and contain no actual breast-milk, according to an interview Lollyphile founder Jason Darling gave to the Los Angeles Times.

“Can you imagine armies of pumping mothers?” Darling said. “Managing that would be a logistical nightmare.”

According to Darling, the lollipops are mostly sugar. “It all kind of tastes like almond milk, but sweeter,” he said.

Darling also said that the lollipops, which cost $10 for 4 pops, sold “a few thousand dollars’ worth” on the first day after the product launched.

Image: Child eating lollipop, via Lollyphile.com

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