New study: Is breast-feeding overrated?

No surprise here: going to a milk bank is much safer for your baby than buying breast milk online. Credit: Getty Images
Researchers found there wasn’t much difference between kids who were breastfed versus kids who were bottle-fed.
Credit: Getty Images

If there’s one thing new moms have been told over and over again, it’s to breast-feed. Numerous studies have found mental and biological benefits from breast-feeding are life-lasting. But a new study published in the Social Science & Medicine Journal is negating all that, saying the benefits of breast-feeding over bottle-feeding aren’t as great as previously stated.

The study compared siblings who were fed differently to compare breast-feeding and bottle-feeding with as little outside differences as possible. Lead researcher Cynthia Colen, who is an assistant professor at Ohio State University, criticized past studies saying that there were so many other factors coming into play, making the comparisons not truly about breast-feeding versus bottle-feeding. “Many previous studies suffer from selection bias. They either do not or cannot statistically control for factors such as race, age, family income, mother’s employment — things we know that can affect both breast-feeding and health outcomes,” she states in a press release.

Researchers studied roughly 8,000 children between the ages of four and 14, and did not find any drastic differences among them. Colen says that while breast-feeding is good, it shouldn’t be such a huge priority. Instead, she found other factors had more of an impact, such as socioeconomics. Those who were bottle-fed were similar to their breast-fed counterparts in all areas of obesity, BMI, hyperactivity, intelligence and parental attachment.

Interestingly, the biggest difference researchers found was that asthma occurred more in children who were breastfed than those who were bottle-fed, although the study did not give the reasons why.

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence



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