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Long-Term Benefits Of Breastfeeding To Babies May Not Include Cognitive And Behavioral Aspects, Study Says [VIDEO]

Update Date: Mar 29, 2017 07:25 AM EDT

The positive impact of breastfeeding for babies has long been acknowledged by health experts. However, a new research found that the long-term benefits of breastfeeding to babies with respect to their cognitive development and behavior are insignificant.

The study published in the journal Pediatrics involved 7,478 Irish children. The researchers analyzed the cognitive abilities and behavior of the children based on the parents' responses to the questionnaires when the children reached the age of 3. The parents, as well as the teachers, provided information about the same aspects when the children turned 5.

It showed that the rate of hyperactivity among the breastfed children was lower and they exhibited better problem-solving skills at 3 years old. These advantages over their peers were no longer significant when they were 5 years old.

An expert agrees that the new study does not contradict earlier studies about the long-term benefits of breastfeeding to babies. The researchers were able to rule out the influence of the mothers' IQ by taking into account their education and income in the analysis. Thus, they were able to find out whether breastfeeding itself has an impact on the child's cognitive skills and behavior.

Nancy Hurst, director of Women's Support Services at Texas Children's Hospital Pavilion for Women, emphasized how nursing the baby, which makes the bond between the mother and baby stronger, is more important than the other benefits. It is true even if the child is not exclusively breastfed, the CNN reported.

While lactation offers many benefits to the mother and child, there are instances when it is highly discouraged. Mothers who are infected with HIV, tuberculosis and have herpes sores on the breast might want to refrain from breastfeeding. The advice is the same for those who are severely malnourished, have a heart disease, cancer and other serious diseases, and inflamed kidneys, according to the Medline Plus.

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