Feature: Parenting

If Your Child Is a Brat, It Could Be Because You Didn’t Breastfeed

Author: Tabitha Paculba
Published: May 12, 2011 at 9:30 am

...Or at least that is what one study proposes. A recent study performed in the United Kingdom looked at over 10,000 mother-child pairings and measured the duration of breast feeding with child behavior. The study asserts that children carried to full term who were breast fed had fewer behavior issues at age 5 years.

According to the study, behavior issues were defined as "...inappropriate behaviors that occur repeatedly over a period of time, have a negative impact on the child's development and interfere with the child's or their family's everyday life.” Examples would include anxiety, hyperactivity and lying.

The problem with this study is that it only looked at white ethnicity groups, single born children and is basing the analysis on interview based questionnaires.

Despite these shortfalls, the number of participants and the correlations are suggestive. We all know breastfeeding is the better option. Not only is it cost effective but it allows for a deep mother-child bond to develop. Plus, breast milk contains essential fatty acids. From a nutrition standpoint, anything essential means that it must be obtained from the diet. The essential fatty acid Omega-6 is present in breast milk and, depending on Mom's diet, Omega-3 as well. These essential fatty acids are naturally found in cold water fish and flaxseed.

Do Omega-3 make a difference? The study above believes there could be an association since essential fatty acids are important to brain and central nervous system development.

There are many other environmental factors that are difficult to rule out such as demographic and socioeconomic. In the 2008 American Journal of Public Health, a study by Dr.'s Kogan, Singh, et al. looked at sociodemographic and behavioral factors associated with breastfeeding in the United States. The results were that western and northwestern states had the longest duration and highest initiation of breastfeeding. Yet, while 75% of new mothers may start to breastfeed, only 13% of infants are breastfed for six months (source U.S. Breastfeeding Committee).

The top six states breastfeeding infants six months or longer:

  • Oregon
  • Idaho
  • Hawaii
  • Utah
  • Alaska
  • California
Whether or not you breastfeed for economic or emotional reasons, remember that many other factors influence a child’s behavior; and where one sees a 5-year-old stinker, another sees a little angel.


About this article

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Article Author: Tabitha Paculba

Along with a passion for nutrition I love to run and have a healthy appetite for adventure. I am a long time member of Team in Training (TNT) which raises money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). I have served in various roles as mentor and captain. …

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