When Extended Breastfeeding Kills

Julie Ryan Evans

breastfeedingScientists have uncovered a shocking discovery -- extended breastfeeding may have deadly effects. In fact, it may have killed many mothers over the years. Those who introduced their babies to solid foods sooner actually fared much better.


Me too. I mean I know some people are weirded out by someone breastfeeding a 6-year-old, but I never knew it could kill. So do YOU have to worry?

Not unless you're a mammoth.

Yes, hold your call to La Leche League, I'm talking about the prehistoric creatures that roamed the earth many moons ago. Researchers have found that their extended breastfeeding may actually be the reason they became extinct.


According to a study published in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, the mammoths typically nursed their babies exclusively for two years, while elephants only did so for about three months before introducing solids, like plants. And since elephants are alive today and mammoths aren't, the theory is it was the toll of breastfeeding that killed off the mammoth.

Researchers noted how much energy it would take a mother to nurse during long Arctic winters.

"Woolly mammoths may have been more vulnerable to the effects of climate change and human hunting than modern elephants," said Metcalfe, a PhD student working with earth sciences professor Fred Longstaffe, who co-authored the paper.

What brave mamas those mammoths were! They gave up their lives to provide their babies with a good start.

So be grateful that you, with your heated home, don't have to worry about a similar fate, that breastfeeding is actually healthy for you and your baby. And perhaps give a little moment of admiration to the mammoths who went before us!

Are you surprised to learn mammoths may have been killed off by extended breastfeeding?

Images (from top to bottom) via chispita_666/Flickr; Sam Howzit/Flickr

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