Breastfeeding linked to infant temperament

January 11, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- New evidence from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit, in Cambridge, suggests that breastfed babies may be more irritable than their bottle-fed counterparts.

In a of 316 babies aged 3 months, published in the journal , were reported by their mothers to cry more and be harder to soothe than formula-fed babies.

Rather than being a sign of stress, the researchers say irritability is a natural part of the dynamic communication between mothers and babies and should not deter women from breastfeeding.

Lead researcher Dr. Ken Ong, a from the MRC Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge, said: “There is an overwhelming body of evidence supporting breastfeeding as the normal and most healthy form of infant nutrition and our findings do not contradict this. Bottle-fed babies may appear more content, but research suggests that these infants may be over-nourished and gain weight too quickly. Our findings are essentially similar to other stages of life; people often find that eating is comforting.

“Rather than being put off breast-feeding, parents should have more realistic expectations of normal infant behaviour and should receive better understanding and support to cope with difficult infant behaviours if needed. These approaches could potentially promote successful breastfeeding, because currently many mothers attempt to breastfeed but give up after the first few weeks.”

The Department of Health recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed for the first six months after birth. According to the 2005 Infant Feeding Survey, three-quarters of new UK mothers start out breastfeeding their babies, but by four months this number has dropped to just one-third.

The most common reason given for women to stop is that “Breast milk alone didn't satisfy my baby”, which reflects their perception of as a negative signal.

Professor Nick Wareham, Director of the MRC Epidemiology Unit, said: “This study does not provide evidence for causality, but it does give us some fascinating insights into the complex and dynamic signalling between mother and baby. Understanding the determinants of infant feeding is a key step in designing appropriate interventions aimed at supporting healthy behaviors.”

Explore further: Sleep disruption for breastfed babies is temporary

More information: The paper: Breastfeeding and infant temperament at age three months, by de Lauzon-Guillain et al, is published in the journal PLoS One.

Related Stories

Sleep disruption for breastfed babies is temporary

October 17, 2011
While breastfed babies initially awaken more during the night for feedings, their sleep patterns -- falling asleep, staying asleep and total sleep time -- stabilize in later infancy and become comparable to non-breastfed ...

Breastfeeding benefits mothers with reduced blood pressure risk

November 2, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- While the benefits of breastfeeding for the baby are well established and some studies have shown that mothers who breastfeed have lower risks of diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease, a new study ...

Researcher urges study of effects of breast pumps

July 7, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- The widespread use of electric breast pumps by American women is fueling a "quiet revolution" in how infants receive their mothers' milk, argues Cornell nutritionist Kathleen Rasmussen in a commentary ...

Mother's postpartum oxycodone use: No safer for breastfed infants than codeine

September 6, 2011
Doctors have been prescribing codeine for postpartum pain management for many years, and, until recently, it was considered safe to breastfeed while taking the opioid. But the death of an infant exposed to codeine through ...

Recommended for you

Hormone therapy in the menopause transition did not increase stroke risk

November 24, 2017
Postmenopausal hormone therapy is not associated with increased risk of stroke, provided that it is started early, according to a report from Karolinska Institutet published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

When traveling on public transport, you may want to cover your ears

November 22, 2017
The noise levels commuters are exposed to while using public transport or while biking, could induce hearing loss if experienced repeatedly and over long periods of time, according to a study published in the open access ...

Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses

November 22, 2017
Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses, but spirits are most frequently associated with feelings of aggression, suggests research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Air pollution linked to poorer quality sperm

November 22, 2017
Air pollution, particularly levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), is associated with poorer quality sperm, suggests research published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Sunrise and sunset guide daily activities of city-dwellers

November 21, 2017
Despite artificial lightning and social conventions, the dynamics of daylight still influence the daily activities of people living in modern, urban environments, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

Older men need more protein to maintain muscles

November 21, 2017
The amount of protein recommended by international guidelines is not sufficient to maintain muscle size and strength in older men, according to a new study.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.