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New study shows no long-term cognitive benefits to breastfeeding


by: Siemny Kim,

A new study shows there are no long-term benefits to breastfeeding. The study published in the journal Pediatrics says after age 5, there are no cognitive differences between children who are breast-fed and those who are not.

Despite the study, advocates of breastfeeding say it’s the short-term benefits that are important.

For instance, Rae Summerbell and 7-month-old Conlan have finally mastered breastfeeding.

But it wasn’t easy.

“It was the one thing I was hellbent on doing as a mom,” Summerbell said.

Conlan was born with craniosynostosis, which means his skull was fused at birth.

Because of his complications, Summerbell was committed to breastfeeding for nutritional reasons.

So she went to lactation nurse Tracy Corey for help.

“That breast milk is patterned right for her baby,” Corey said.

The short-term benefits of breast milk, Corey said, are much more established.

“When a mom is catching a bug or baby is catching a bug, when a baby breastfeeds, those germs go into mom and vice versa and immediately that breast creates antibodies to fight that bug,” Corey explained.

But Corey, who also owns Nurturing Expressions in West Seattle — a store that offers breastfeeding support and sells pumps and other supplies — recognizes there is a pressure and guilt for mothers to breastfeed.

In a story that went viral this month, Jillian Johnson says that pressure led to accidentally starving her son to death. He was just 19 days old. She shared her story in an interview with People magazine.

“You felt brainwashed,” Johnson told People. “Like you were a horrible person if you gave the baby a bottle.”

“As lactation consultants we’re not here to just say breast is best all the time because it may not be,” Corey added. “What we need to do is look at how to feed that baby.”

For long-term cognitive development, Corey says the key is simply connecting with your baby – holding, loving, and nurturing your child, no matter how they’re fed.

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