Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

As good as chocolate and better than ice-cream: Study asks Aussie tots about breastfeeding

05.08.2005


Breastfeeding toddlers: it’s considered a social no-no, which means very few mothers end up breastfeeding their babies past 12 months of age. A University of Western Sydney researcher has carried out Australia’s first study of mums and bubs who breastfeed beyond infancy - looking at why these women are bucking the trend against premature weaning, and asking the toddlers themselves how they feel about breastfeeding.



Dr Karleen Gribble from the UWS School of Nursing, Family and Community Health surveyed 107 Australian mothers aged 21 to 45 years, who were breastfeeding 114 children at least two years of age or older.

Dr Gribble asked the women about their breastfeeding history, how they felt about breastfeeding an older child, and aspects of the mother-child relationship. In a first, the survey also contained a number of questions for the mothers to ask the children, who ranged in age from 24 to 78 months.


Released to coincide with World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August), the study not only sheds light on why the mothers continue to breastfeed, but reveals how the children - who spoke of ’being able to cuddle mummy’ and enjoying the ’yummy’ taste of breastmilk - play an important role in the decision-making process.

The overwhelming majority of mothers - 92 per cent - enjoyed breastfeeding their children, and felt it had helped strengthen the mother-child relationship.

However breastfeeding a toddler wasn’t something the mothers had necessarily planned. 75 per cent didn’t intend to breastfeed past 12 months, however their increased confidence and knowledge about breastfeeding, and a sense of their own enjoyment and that of the child, encouraged them to delay weaning.

92 per cent of mothers reported that breastfeeding their previous children had influenced their current experience, with many motivated to breastfeed for longer this time around.

Dr Gribble says despite recommendations by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that children be breastfed up to two years of age or beyond, and the proven health benefits for both mother and child, many still question the value of continuing to breastfeed beyond 12 months.

"The associated social stigma has meant the practice of breastfeeding older babies and toddlers is hidden behind closed doors. Less than one per cent of Australian children are breastfeeding on their second birthday. As a result, the breastfeeding of older toddlers has been largely ignored in research, and is poorly understood," says Dr Gribble.

Dr Gribble says her research reveals the decision to continue to breastfeed beyond infancy is as much a desire of the child as it is the mother.

"Only 7 per cent of women said they had intended to breastfeed this long. The choice to initiate and continue breastfeeding is usually couched in terms of maternal decision making, but it’s evident from this study that as a child grows that it becomes a mutually-negotiated decision," says Dr Gribble.

"For these mothers, there was a change in their own attitude, usually as a result of seeing others breastfeed toddlers, or their increasing knowledge and confidence, or their own enjoyment of breastfeeding. However the most common reason for continuing to breastfeed was that the child simply enjoyed it, and did not want to wean."

Dr Gribble says many of mothers were happy to continue breastfeeding because they found it easier and more enjoyable than they first anticipated.

"60 per cent of mothers said breastfeeding had gotten easier over time, while just five per cent stated that breastfeeding had become more difficult. Many of the women had actually overcome significant difficulties to continue breastfeeding, such as early attachment problems, pain, post-natal depression, childhood sexual abuse, major illness, serious allergy, and multiple births," she says.

Mums believed their toddlers continued to enjoy breastfeeding primarily because it provided comfort; secondly, because of the intimacy and closeness involved; thirdly because they were hungry; and fourthly because they simply liked the taste of breastmilk - which was clearly backed up by the children.

"When children were asked about breastfeeding, nearly all said they breastfed because they loved it - they liked the milk and it made them feel happy or good," says Dr Gribble.

"Children made comments like: ’I like cuddling Mummy, it’s my treat’ or breastmilk tastes ’as good as chocolate’ and ’better than ice-cream’."

Dr Gribble says low breastfeeding continuation rates are a major concern for health care professionals across Australia - not only because premature weaning means more illness in infants, but because of longer term consequences for the child and mother, contributing significantly to health care costs.

"We can learn a lot from the women in this study about how and why they persisted with breastfeeding. This may help to encourage more women to continue with breastfeeding through and beyond infancy for the benefit of both mothers and children," says Dr Gribble.

Dr Gribble will present the results of her study at an international breastfeeding conference in Hobart in September.

Amanda Whibley | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uws.edu.au

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht WAKE-UP provides new treatment option for stroke patients | International study led by UKE
17.05.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf

nachricht First form of therapy for childhood dementia CLN2 developed
25.04.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>