Babies who were breastfeeding and fed solid foods rather than exclusively breastfed stand and walk faster than slightly faster times to standing and walking in full-term infants compared to infants exclusively breast fed, according to a new study.
Breastfeeding has long been known to provide health benefits to babies, including improved immune strength, lowered risk for asthma and allergies and more. A new study out of the University at Albany, however, found that it has no notable impact on motor development.
In the study of 4,270 babies organized by feeding category (Breastfed exclusively (control group), Both breast and formula and Formula fed exclusively), the study found that breast milk provides nutrition and energy to babies in addition to providing hormones, growth factors, antibodies and long-chain fatty acids that aid in growth and development.
While these benefits are undisputed among experts, questions have remained as to what impact, if any, breast milk has on a children’s muscular development and their subsequent ability to hit milestones such as standing or walking.
Researchers Erin Bell, associate professor of Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health, collaborated with University of Albany graduate and pediatrician Scott Bello as well as Kara Michels, Akhgar Ghassabian, Sunni Mumford, Rajeshwari Sundaram and Edwina Yeung as part of a larger Upstate KIDS Study, of over 6,000 babies born to 5,000 mothers between 2008 and 2010 in the 57 counties of upstate New York.
The team had a particular interest in determining whether or not breastfeeding provided any motor-development advantages to pre-term babies, and because twins are often born pre-term, they also focused on twin infants.
“Although breastfeeding does not notably speed along motor development, it’s important to note that it doesn’t slow it down either, and mothers who are able to breastfeed should still consider it because of the non-motor development benefits,” Bell said. “Additionally, more research is warranted on the subject of feeding patterns and motor-development milestones, particularly in pre-term infants” said Bell.
The full paper can be found here.