- 4 years ago
- Wedding: October 2013
There have been a couple of threads lately on breastfeeding and the notion that brest is best and in some ways “formula is poison.” After reading another thread I decided to look up an article I read a while ago —
The article argues that yes, breastfeeding does have some, minimal, benefits but not so much to chastize mothers who can’t or don’t want to breast feed or feed their babies other mothers’ milk (the latter loses perhaps the main beneit of mother/baby bond ANYWAY).
Below are the important sections:
It is true that breastfed babies are healthier in many ways than formula-fed ones. But does that in and of itself prove a causal relationship between health and breast milk? Women who breastfeed tend to be wealthier and better educated than women who don’t, so it’s hard to tease apart how much of the benefit to their children comes from breastfeeding and how much comes from other factors correlated with money and education. (For instance, women who breastfeed are less likely to smoke.)
A large study recently co-conducted by the University of Edinburgh and Scotland’s Medical Research Council found that breastfed babies do indeed tend to be smarter than formula-fed babies. But it also found that mothers who breastfeed also tend to have higher IQs and more education, and tend to provide more stimulating home environments than formula-feeding mothers. Once the numbers were corrected to account for the mom’s IQ, the relationship between breastfeeding and intelligence disappeared. (And there was no statistical difference between siblings when one was breastfed and one wasn’t.) The study, analyzing data on nearly 5,500 American children, was published in the British Medical Journal in October 2006. Previous studies, for the most part, hadn’t factored in the mom’s IQ when declaring that breastfeeding made babies smarter.
Women who breastfeed tend to be wealthier and better educated than women who don’t, so it’s hard to tease apart how much of the benefit to their children comes from breastfeeding. Certainly the Scottish study indicates it’s unlikely that breastfeeding will make my baby smarter. (The fact that I am a total mega mongo genius will.) But as for another frequently touted benefit of breastfeeding, postpartum weight loss, another recent study indicated that breastfeeding doesn’t help women shed pregnancy weight. Researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center found women who breastfed actually shed about two-and-a-half pounds less than those who didn’t nurse. Study author Karen Wosje, Ph.D. said, “Nursing women tend to exercise less and have higher levels of the hormone prolactin, which stimulates appetite to help milk production.”
As for cancer prevention, Mary Jane Minkin, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine, says that maintaining a healthy weight and exercising are far more important than breastfeeding. And as with intelligence, having good genes is probably the best strategy of all. Not much you or your baby can do about that one.
I won’t judge if someone brestfeeds or not, provides breastmilk or not, but its important to know what the science actually says…
ETA: “formula is poison” is from the article, but is meant as the general sentiment that seems to permeate these discussions.