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13th Nov 2019

Breastfeeding can help protects babies if mum suffers from postnatal depression

This is fascinating.

Trine Jensen-Burke

postnatal depression

Postnatal depression is serious.

One major worry to most, both when going through this, and also afterwards, is how their depression affected their babies.

study has shed some light on this and found that breastfed babies are more protected against their mother’s depression than babies who are formula-fed.

The US study compared four groups of mothers: mothers who were either depressed (breast or formula-feeding) or non-depressed (breast or formula-feeding).

The measure was the babies’ EEG (electroencephalogram) patterns (abnormal patterns were a symptom of depression in the infants).

postnatal depression


What they found was that the babies of depressed, breastfeeding mothers had normal EEG patterns compared to the babies of depressed, formula-feeding mothers.

In other words, breastfeeding protected the babies from the harmful effects of their mothers’ depression.

The researchers concluded that the reason for this comes down to maternal responsivity, as they discovered that the depressed, breastfeeding mothers did not disengage from their babies. They couldn’t.

The breastfeeding mothers looked at, touched, and made eye contact with their babies more than the mothers who were not breastfeeding.

And this, apparently, was enough to make a difference.