Breastfeeding tied to stronger maternal response to baby's cry

Apr 20, 2011

A new study from the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry finds that mothers who feed their babies breast milk exclusively, as opposed to formula, are more likely to bond emotionally with their child during the first few months after delivery. The breastfeeding mothers surveyed for the study showed greater responses to their infant's cry in brain regions related to caregiving behavior and empathy than mothers who relied upon formula as the baby's main food source. This is the first paper to examine the underlying neurobiological mechanisms as a function of breastfeeding, and to connect brain activity with maternal behaviors among human mothers.

The fMRI-based findings suggest that breastfeeding and factors associated with breastfeeding, such has high levels of hormones (, prolactin), stress, and culture may all play an important role for mothers' and parenting behaviours during the early postpartum period. The research shows that up to three or four months after delivery some of the originally observed at one month postpartum (amygdala, putamen, globus pallidus, and superior frontal gyrus) continued to activate and were correlated with maternal, sensitive behavior among the same group of mothers.

The findings highlight the dramatic relationship between breastfeeding, brain activity and parenting behaviours during the early postpartum period. Lead researcher Dr. Pilyoung Kim, "It is important for loved ones to support mothers and help them cope with challenges related to breastfeeding and parenting during this period. Mothers unable to breastfeed may benefit from extra encouragement to engage in sensitive, caring interactions with baby."

Explore further: Gender disparities in cognition will not diminish

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New research finds breastfeeding stops neglect

Jan 26, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- When a mother breastfeeds she is essentially protecting her child from herself, according to UQ researcher and developmental paediatrician, Dr Lane Strathearn.

Warning to breastfeeding mothers

Apr 15, 2011

While breastfeeding babies has numerous health advantages to both mother and child, mothers who breastfeed may find that other people look down on them and do not want to work with them. A recent study released by Personality an ...

Recommended for you

Could summer camp be the key to world peace?

4 hours ago

According to findings from a new study by University of Chicago Booth School of Business Professor Jane Risen, and Chicago Booth doctoral student Juliana Schroeder, it may at least be a start.

Gender disparities in cognition will not diminish

Jul 28, 2014

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, investigated the extent to which improvements in living conditions and educational opportunities over a person's life affect cognitive abilities and th ...

Facial features are the key to first impressions

Jul 28, 2014

A new study by researchers in the Department of Psychology at the University of York shows that it is possible to accurately predict first impressions using measurements of physical features in everyday images of faces, such ...

User comments : 0