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D.iet & H.ealth : C.hildren & W.omen Last Updated: Nov 12th, 2006 - 20:38:00

Breast-feeding helps children cope with stress
Aug 2, 2006, 23:34

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Aug. 3 ( - It's been well known breast-feeding is good for both the mother and the baby. New evidence now suggests breast-feeding may make children more capable of coping with stress when they grow up, according to a new study published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.

The study, led by Dr Scott Montgomery, an epidemiologist at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, found breast-fed children coped better with stressful situation such as their parents' marital problems.

For the study, researchers monitored 9000 children after birth. Teachers were asked to rate the anxiety level of the 10-year-old children for their capability of handling stress associated with their parents' problems.

All children had a higher level of stress, but those who were breast-fed looked to have less anxiety when facing their parents' divorce than those who were bottle-fed.

The mother's milk is full of nutrients the baby needs most including hormones, proteins, sugars, enzymes, growth factors and antibodies. Early studies found breast-fed babies are less prone to infections, respiratory illness and diarrhea. Mothers who have breast-fed are less likely to get breast cancer among others.

Researchers do not know how to explain the association. But they suggest that it might be that breast-feeding affects the development of pathways in the children that are involved in handling stress or associated with anxiety.

Or breastfeeding may be simply an indicator of other parental factors or the closeness between the mother and child might help reduce anxiety.

In the U.S., physicians suggest mothers should breast feed babies for at least one year or longer if either the mother or the baby so desires.

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