nursing-20-month-sBreastfeeding is amazing stuff, but unfortunately it can’t save children from everything. The “preventative medicine” effects are certainly wonderful reasons to support the breastfeeding relationship, but not all preventative measures prevent negative outcomes. Breastfeeding doesn’t always mean your child will be in the clear. A recent finding that breastfed children are least likely to have reported behavioural problems and mental health issues, is not a category I can say our daugther falls into.

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I found the following on About.Com: Breastfeeding.

“A study presented at the American Public Health Association’s 136th Annual Meeting & Exposition in San Diego shows that children who were breastfed have less behavioral problems and mental health issues during childhood than those who were not breastfed.

The researchers used the 2003 National Survey of Children’s Health data from 102,353 interviews of parents and guardians on the health of their children. They found that parents of breastfed children were less likely to report concern for the child’s behavior, and breastfed children were less likely to have been diagnosed with behavioral problems. These children were also less likely to have received mental health care. As an added bonus, parents of breastfed children were less likely to report concern about the child’s learning abilities.

The lead researcher on the study, Katherine Hobbs Knutson, MD, states, “These findings support current evidence that breastfeeding enhances childhood intellectual ability while providing new evidence that breastfeeding may contribute to childhood emotional development and protect against psychiatric illness and behavioral problems.”


My daughter has behavioural challenges. She has been a “high needs” child since birth. We have gone so far as to have her tested for Autism Spectrum Disorder on the recommendation of doctors, an occupational therapist and a speech language therapist. The result of that year plus long journey was no diagnoisis, amd I have had mixed emotions since then. Whereas I am relieved my daughter doesn’t have to wear a label, she is still the same child. If she had been diagnosed she would have gotten help. Here in Canada when a child gets a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, the family will receive $20,000 a year until the child is six, for early intervention treatment. 

I could go through the process again with a different team of professionals, paid this time, and demand a diagnosis, but I don’t want to drag everyone through that again, and she very well might not have one.  So we work with her pre-school teachers and read lots of books and find new ways to parent this special child.

And I focus on the positives. I breastfed her for three years. If I hadn’t, maybe things would be worse. We have that important attachment. As a baby when she was scared and needing solace, or sad and needing to be held, I could pick her up and hold her tightly to my breast and all the bad things in the world melted away for her.

Hugs didn’t work. Kisses didn’t work. Reassuring words and cooing didn’t work. Breastfeeding was the tool of choice in my toolbox. Even if it didn’t fix things permanently, or even for very long, breastfeeding worked.

When my daughter was born I breastfed her because I knew it was the best thing for her growing body  and I wanted to give her nothing but the best. Then breastfeeding became a parenting tool and saved us all from going crazy. Now, although it is a thing of the past, I know our breastfeeding relationship really did make things better, for everyone.

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12 Responses to “Behavioural Problems? Yes, My Breastfed Baby.”

  1. #1 Emily Jones Says:

    March 19, 2009 at 10:03 am
  2. #2 Marcy Says:

    March 19, 2009 at 12:48 pm
  3. #3 Jennifer Says:

    March 20, 2009 at 12:52 pm
  4. #4 Melodie Says:

    March 20, 2009 at 1:14 pm
  5. #6 Stephanie Says:

    March 26, 2009 at 9:23 am
  6. #8 Bettina Says:

    October 4, 2009 at 5:09 am
  7. #9 Packing Up The Sugar | Breastfeeding Moms Unite Says:

    October 5, 2009 at 12:08 am
  8. #10 Mindfully Loving My Children | Breastfeeding Moms Unite Says:

    January 12, 2010 at 3:26 am

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