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Breastfeeding Could Help Infants Control Stress, Study Shows

Sasiistock via iStock

Breastfeeding may help babies control their stress according to new research out of the University of Utah.

The study followed 42 women over five months. Half breastfed or bottle fed their new babies with breast milk, and the other half used formula.

Researchers found the brains of babies who consumed breast milk were better able to dampen stress levels under stressful circumstances.

Dr. Elisabeth Conradt, an author on the study, said it's the first to look at breastfeeding as it relates to caregiving behavior and infant stress responses. However, Conradt said it’s hard to extrapolate what this could mean for children long term.

“I think though that this could set up the child to maybe be a little bit more calm and maybe a little less stressed right from birth,” she said.

Of course, some women can’t breastfeed and many choose not to. Conradt said the study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, doesn’t exclude them.

“I think it was encouraging in this study that we also found these effects of moms who were also bottle feeding with breast milk,” she said.

Conradt said more research is needed to understand what role the consumption of breast milk plays versus the physical touch of breastfeeding itself.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.


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