News | Monday, February 20, 2012
A recent study released by the The Journal of Pediatrics finds that breastfeeding is associated with improved cognitive development, particularly in children born pre-term. Results show a significant difference in picture similarities, naming vocabulary and pattern construction for babies who are breastfed, concluding that those children are 1 to 6 months ahead of children who were never breastfed (The Journal of Pediatrics, Volume 160, Issue 1).
Improved cognitive development is a new addition to a long list of benefits associated with breastfeeding, says Any Baby Can Parent Educator Erin Stangland (pictured right), who is also a Breastfeeding Educator certified by the Texas Department of State Health Services. “Breastfeeding reduces the rates of colds and ear infections in babies, it supports bonding between mother and child and releases the ‘love hormone’ Oxytocin which puts mom at a reduced risk for postpartum depression. New research even shows that babies who are breastfed are less likely to be obese as adults.” Stangland notes that, in the beginning, breastfeeding can be more challenging than formulafeeding, but long-term, it is more convenient and less expensive, a perspective she highlights to the mothers she coaches.
As research continues to mount in support of breastfeeding, a shift in services to new mothers is building. Many hospitals are adopting the “baby-friendly” movement and encouraging breastfeeding before readily handing out formula; some are even requiring a doctor’s prescription for formula. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) has also changed their services to clients. Mothers who breastfeed are eligible to participate in WIC longer than non-breastfeeding mothers, and mothers who exclusively breastfeed their infants receive an enhanced food package. Stangland says she hopes that these incentives will entice new mothers to stick with breastfeeding and work through any challenges. As she notes, the bottom line is simple, “It’s just so important for your baby.”