While the increasing pressure placed on new mums to breastfeed can undoubtedly be dangerous to both their own mental wellbeing, as well as the child’s health if they are not getting enough food to survive and develop, new research might help to ease some of the guilt surrounding bottle feeding.
A new study has found that a child’s cognitive development is the same at the age of five regardless of whether they were breast fed or bottle fed.
The study published in the journal Pediatrics, measured the behaviour, vocabulary level and cognitive ability of 7,478 children in Ireland at age three and five.
A difference was found between children who were breastfed in improved problem solving and reduced hyperactivity at age three, but not at the age of five.
No differences were found in vocabulary and other abilities at either age, reports The independent UK.
While there has been a long-running debate over whether breast is best, author Lisa-Christine Girard, from University College Dublin says socio-economic factors such as the mother’s education and income may have come into play in previous research.
“There’s a certain profile of mothers in developed countries who engage in breastfeeding behaviour,” Dr Girard told The Independent. “So it’s important to tease that apart and understand the direct link, if there is one.”
According to Dr Girard, mothers who were more highly educated, in better financial positions and were less likely to engage in risky prenatal behaviour such as smoking, were statistically more likely to breastfeed.
While breastfeeding has been proven to help protect babies from certain illnesses and infections, the study does not seek to take away from that but rather focused on cognitive ability and language says Dr Girard.
“We didn’t find any statistically significant differences between children who were breastfed and those who weren’t, in terms of their cognitive ability and language.”