Exclusive breastfeeding credited for better behaved schoolchildren

A recent study in South Africa found a strong correlation between the length of time a child was excusively breastfed and their behavior at ages 7 to 11 years.

Researchers found out a significant link between exclusive breastfeeding up to six months and lesser behavioral as well as cognitive disorders during primary school. Comparison was done between those who were breastfed  for the WHO recommended six months and children who were breastfed for only a month.



The study was conducted among 1,536 children in rural South Africa by a team of academics led by Dr. Ruth Bland of the University of Glasgow. It was  funded by the Government of Canada through Grand Challenges Canada.

According to lead author Dr. Tamsen J. Rochat of the Human Science Research Council in Durban, South Africa, "The duration of exclusive breastfeeding of an infant has greater importance than previously realized in several areas of development."

Aside from these findings, the study also found that children who attended preschool for at least one year were 74% more likely to exhibit higher executive function, which also usually determine educational and social success. Those who are stimulated at home, through play, were 36% more likely to achieve higher scores in executive function.

Another factor that influence a child's development is the mental health of their mothers. Children whose mothers have current severe parenting stress or mental health problem are two-and-a-half times more likely to have  emotional and behavioral problems, too.

Parents must realize the importance of maintaining good behavior in children at an early age. According to the press release by Grand Challenges Canada, conduct disorders from childhood are carried on through the teen years and are highly associated with an increase in antisocial behaviors and generally low academic achievement.

From the study, one can see just how big the role of a mother is, in the development of a child. The mother's act of breastfeeding a child as well as her mental health are key factors in a child's emotional development.

We have often joked that someone must not have been loved or nurtured by his/her mother whenever that someone exhibits bad behavior. Now we know there's a kernel of truth in that joke.
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