Document Detail

The impact of breastfeeding on mothers' attentional sensitivity towards infant distress.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  21185606     Owner:  NLM     Status:  In-Data-Review    
BACKGROUND: Maternal response towards infant distress has an important impact on infant development. In animals it is established that lactation and pup suckling plays an important role in maintaining maternal responses. Previous research suggests that breastfeeding is associated with sensitive maternal responses in human mothers. However, this may be because women who are more sensitive to their infant choose to breastfeed. The current study investigated the attentional sensitivity towards infant distress in women who went on to breast or formula feed during pregnancy as well as after birth. We hypothesised that differences in breast and formula feeding mothers would only emerge after birth once feeding had commenced.
METHOD: Women were recruited during pregnancy through community midwives as part of a longitudinal study. 51 women were seen during late pregnancy and between 3 and 6 months after birth (27 were breast and 24 were formula feeding). Sensitivity to infant distress was measured as the extent of women's attentional bias towards infant distress stimuli.
RESULTS: After birth, we found that our index of attentional bias towards infant distress was 37ms (0.5 S.D.s) (CI; 6-69, p=0.021) higher in breastfeeding compared to formula feeding mothers. However, mothers who went on to breastfeed did not show greater attentional bias towards infant distress already during late pregnancy.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that the act of breastfeeding may influence mothers' attentional sensitivity towards infant distress. Previous research suggests breastfeeding is indicative of sensitive parenting. The current findings may suggest a mechanism by which breastfeeding and/or associated infant interaction could contribute to this sensitivity.
R M Pearson; S L Lightman; J Evans
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article     Date:  2010-12-24
Journal Detail:
Title:  Infant behavior & development     Volume:  34     ISSN:  1934-8800     ISO Abbreviation:  Infant Behav Dev     Publication Date:  2011 Feb 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2011-02-01     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7806016     Medline TA:  Infant Behav Dev     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  200-5     Citation Subset:  IM    
Copyright Information:
Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Academic Unit of Psychiatry, University of Bristol, Cotham House, Cotham Hill, Bristol BS6 6JL, UK.
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