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Personality could be key to breast-feeding

Tuesday August 6th, 2013

Extrovert mothers are most likely to press on with breast-feeding, according to research published today.

Campaigners say the findings reflect the social obstacles that still confront breast-feeding mothers - something that extroverts override more easily than others.

The researchers also found that emotional stability played a key part in women continuing to breast-feed.

In contrast women found to be introverted or anxious tended to give up breast-feeding quite quickly.

Dr Amy Brown, of Swansea University, UK, questioned some 602 mothers for the research, published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Dr Brown said: "The important message from the findings is that some mothers may face more challenges with breast-feeding based on their wider personality.

"Although they may want to breast-feed, more introverted or anxious mothers may need further support in boosting their confidence and learning about how to solve problems, and they may need encouragement to make sure they access the breastfeeding support services that are available."

Janet Fyle, of the Royal College of Midwives, said the findings should be interpeted cautiously.

She said: "There is no doubt that mothers who have more support are more likely to breastfeed for longer and this includes societal support. Unfortunately we hear too often of mothers who are challenged or asked to stop breastfeeding in public areas.

"If we are to make any progress in our woeful breastfeeding statistics and boost the confidence of new mothers to breastfeed for longer, we need to adopt breastfeeding as the default method of infant nutrition throughout our society.”   

* A second study today links breast-feeding to avoiding Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers at Cambridge University, UK, said they found a "highly significant" link, suggesting that women who breast-feed have a reduced risk of developing the disease.

The research, reported in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, involved just 81 British women - and could reflect common factors that link a willingness to breast-feed and susceptibility to Alzheimer's disease.

The researchers say there may also be hormonal benefits from breast-feeding which protect the brain in later life.

Amy Brown. Maternal trait personality and breastfeeding duration: the importance of confidence and social support. Journal of Advanced Nursing; 6 August 6 2013; doi: 10.1111/jan.12219 [abstract]

Tags: Childbirth and Pregnancy | Mental Health | Nursing & Midwifery | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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