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May 15, 2011

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I hate these studies because it just gives another thing for the Smug Lactators to feel smug about. That said, I'd rather read about it from you as you are not a Smug Lactator but rather someone capable of reading the literature beyond that which reflects your own biases and avoid making sweeping statements based solely out of your own experience.

I think if anything this study may be a ringing endorsement of the Baby-Friendly Hospital model. My hospital had undergone the training in the three years between babies, both c-section births, and the experience after Will was SO MUCH BETTER than it was after Maggie. I was able to snuggle him right away and he was brought to me in recovery as soon as I could sit up and I was able to try and nurse. I have no idea if that was why, but I had a MUCH better supply with him, felt happier, less traumatized and more bonded right away. It was, in a word, wonderful. In many ways it's a mother-friendly model as well, because I wasn't trying to fake my way out of recovery so I could see my baby, and the whole thing was just such a happy and meaningful experience because he was there with me.

"if a kid is genetically predisposed toward anxiety, say, and then doesn't get the long-chain fatty acids that we know are important for building a healthy brain, he may have more trouble regulating his anxious feelings down the line."

Even without the Smuggies being smug towards her, a mother who could not breastfeed and whose child has these issues, is going to feel more sorrow over the news than before she heard it.

She might, Celeste; it's true. She might also be glad to have a partial explanation.

Hm, I think this probably deserves a post of its own.

"Even without...a mother who could not breastfeed and whose child has these issues, is going to feel more sorrow over the news than before she heard it. "

On the other hand, even if some mothers feel more sorrow, seeking and finding knowledge, little bits of truth, is a good thing. I think, along the lines of what AmyinMotown said, that as we discover what helps or hinders the optimal development of children (and parents!), we can, as a society and in our birth-related structures, do our best to help the most people be truly able to *choose* what is more likely to bring healthier outcomes.

If this news causes some mothers additional pain, my heart hurts for them. But if this news causes health care professionals to say to other similar future mothers, "we will do our best not to jeopardize your plan to breastfeed" (not pressuring mothers, but supporting them in their own decision), well then this is a great thing. And if more studies tease out the cause behind the relationship (be it the fatty acids, or or or) then it could give even mothers who cannot breastfeed additional tools--maybe it would provide another research-based reason to support breastmilk banks as a public health concern, for instance, so their babies can also get the specific benefits of human milk.

I hate it when I accidentally delete comments. Maybe that was a sign that my last comment was too rambly.

I was breastfed for 2 years and 9 months. (Not exclusively, though; I was eating fishsticks at 4 months. Interestingly, I have no food allergies.) I have symptoms of almost every anxiety disorder on the DSM. I know reducing isn't eliminating, but it still makes me a little sad. Maybe I would have been even more anxious without all the nice fatty acids. Maybe not. Who knows?

Studies like this do make me want to try really hard to breastfeed my own children, though. (With the knowledge that you can't always even if you really want to; I'm not going to be Smug towards my own self here.) My boyfriend and I both have family history of...highly unusual brains, if you will (autism spectrum disorders, mostly, but also anxiety disorders and epilepsy). So I kind of want to make it up to my kids by working with the stats in other ways. ("I made a very non-eugenic choice when I married your father, so here's some breastmilk to make it all better!")

Now I am being told to get off the computer, so I'd better just post this and have done with it.

Sojourner makes an excellent point about genetic involvement. I guess I really wonder how we could quantify what degree of assistance breastfeeding might give, considering that there is such a variance in severity with these brain differences.

How can this be objectively measured when parents themselves are the ones who reported the results??

Lets be honest here, someone who takes the time and care to extend breastfeed can not be objective about this. We all think our kids are better behaved than other people do. They should let the school teachers report who don't know who is breastfed and who isn't to make it more blind to bias.

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