But British researchers have recently discovered another mental bonus -- children who are breast-fed seem to cope with stress and anxiety more effectively when they reach school age.
In a group of almost 9,000 children between the ages of 5 and 10, children who weren't breast-fed and whose parents were getting divorced or separated were 9.4 times more likely to be highly anxious when compared to other children. But, children who were breast-fed as infants whose parents were getting divorced were only 2.2 times as likely to be highly anxious, the study found.
"Breast-feeding is associated with resilience against the psychosocial stress linked with parental divorce/separation," the study's authors concluded in a recent issue of the Archives of Diseases in Childhood.
The authors theorized that the physical contact between mother and child in the first few days of life could help form certain neural and hormonal pathways that affect a person's ability to cope with stress later in life.
Breast-feeding experts have long been aware of the mother-baby bond that occurs during breast-feeding. "There's a lot less verbal communication, but lots of tactile communication and eye contact that promotes positive physiological responses," said Liz Maseth, an outpatient lactation consultant at Akron's Children's Hospital in Ohio.
"Breast-feeding does seem to suppress stress responses in babies, and it does seem that there's a protective effect," she said. More...
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