Breastfeeding - Does it Protect Kids From Neglect?

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breastfeeding babyBreastfeeding does a baby's body good ... that much we already know. But a 15-year study of over 6,000 Australian children discovered that breastfeeding may benefit babies in another way -- protecting them from neglect.

Babies who were breastfed for at least four months were significantly less likely to suffer abuse or neglect by their mothers than babies who weren't nursed at all. Experts believe that the hormone oxytocin, which is released when a baby nurses, helps mothers bond more closely with their baby. At least one critic of the study says that this finding is backwards. Breastfeeding doesn't create a stronger bond, it's just that women who go to the trouble of breastfeeding are more likely to also be nurturing mothers.

As a mom, I've both nursed and formula-fed, so I know how these studies can make you feel. I think these findings may be significant, but not in a fan-the-flames-of-the-mommy-wars kind of way. Because I believe that most parents -- no matter how they choose to feed their babies -- will create a strong bond with their children and provide loving care.

But I am wondering if these findings might be useful in certain situations. If a mother is known to be high-risk, providing encouragement, education, and support for breastfeeding might be one way to prevent problems down the road. What do you think about this study?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.