A new study has shown that breastfeeding may prevent autism risk in kids. The study, conducted by New York-based physician-researcher Gary Steinman, MD, PhD, concluded that low levels of a protein called insulin-like growth factor (IGF) "could potentially serve as a biomarker that could anticipate autism occurrence." The research referenced numerous studies prior that strongly link IGF with a number of growth and neural functions, and Steinman further pointed to breastfeeding as an abundant source of the protein. He concluded that "IGF delivered via breastfeeding would compensate for any inborn deficiency of the growth factor in newborns." And get this: If the IGF-autism hypothesis is further validated by more studies, Dr. Steinman claims that an increase in the duration of breastfeeding could come to be associated with a decrease in autism.
Now, whether you breastfeed or not, there's no denying that it's pretty fascinating when there are strides made in understanding, and possibly preventing, autism. And, hey, maybe this will be a deciding factor for women who are on the fence about whether they want to breast or formula-feed. Of course every woman needs to do what's right for them and their family, but this knowledge certainly can't hurt.
This all, of course, is in the beginning stages and a lot more research needs to be done, but it sounds really promising. And anything that seems to be a lead on figuring out what causes autism is a win for parents.
Do you breastfeed?
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