Breastfeeding Won't Keep Your Kid Out of Jail

Sheri Reed

woman mother breastfeeding nursing babyA new breastfeeding study suggests that breastfeeding your baby for even as few as four months can reduce the risk of their becoming troublemakers by almost a third. Wow! This news is awesome! Finally, we can actively make our kids into the little angels our own mothers don't think we deserve.

Of course, I'd also take this news with a grain of salt because I breastfed both of my boys, my youngest for about nine months -- more than two times the number of months suggested -- and I still got myself a little troublemaker.

So either this study is wrong or the magical unicorn-and-rainbow-inducing milk from my breasts got converted into convict-making curd along the way. You decide.

The study of 9,500 mothers and babies, which came out of Oxford University and was led by Dr. Maria Quigley, found that 16 percent of children brought up on formula milk had problems including anxiety, lying, stealing, and hyperactivity – more than double the proportion of those kids breastfed for at least four months. Of course, I want to cry foul on this finding as well, but I can only tackle one study opposition at a time!

I mean, if this study is true, then how come my older son is insistent on rigid rule-following while my younger son exudes bad-to-the-bone behaviors. Anxiety isn't so much of a problem for our little one, as is a lack thereof when doing things that would induce anxiety in a normal person -- things like lying or stealing, in fact.

The other day when I offered my youngest risotto for the first time and asked that he please at least try it. Without missing a beat, he told me, "No thanks, Mom, I tried risotto at snacktime the other day." At preschool? Right ... "I did, Mom," he said, "and I didn't like it."

Such an eloquent liar too.

So far the stealing is limited to his older brother's toys and goodies; however, he will never ever -- not for anything! -- admit to stealing. Even if you catch him red handed. "I don't know how this toy got into my pocket. I think my brother put it there. Or a giant beetle. Beetles are bad."

Thankfully, Dr. Quigley does admit there might be more to this good behavior than the breastfeeding on its own:

As a group, mothers who breastfed for four months were very different socially to those who formula fed. They were more likely to be older, better educated and in a higher socio-economic position.

We just don’t know whether it is because of the constituents in breast milk which are lacking in formula, or the close interaction with the mum during breastfeeding.

But it does begin to look like we can add fewer behavioural problems as another potential benefit of breastfeeding.

Hmmm, that still seems to imply that breastfeeding is some sort of keep-your-kids-out-of-jail card. I hope it's true for us somewhere down the line -- like next year in kindergarten would be nice -- because breastfeeding is sure a lot cheaper than posting bail.

What do you think about these findings? Is there any way this could be true?


Image via Raphael Goetter/Flickr

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