Friday, February 06, 2009

Breastfed kids much less likely to be abused by their mother

(Popular summary followed by journal abstract. The suggestion seems to be that breastfeeding of itself has some effect. That is almost certainly nonsense. What the results show is that mothers who are concerned and stable enough to breastfeed are also unlikely to be abusers)

So says a large Australian study published online in Pediatrics, involving 7223 pairs of mothers and infants monitored for 15 years. In that time, 512 children had substantiated child protection agency reports of abuse, including neglect, physical abuse, and emotional abuse. After taking social factors into account, such as whether the pregnancy was wanted, substance abuse during pregnancy, and employment after the birth, non-breastfed infants were 2.6 times more likely to have been abused. There was no link between breastfeeding and abuse by other people.

Does Breastfeeding Protect Against Substantiated Child Abuse and Neglect? A 15-Year Cohort Study

Lane Strathearn et al.

OBJECTIVES. We explored whether breastfeeding was protective against maternally perpetrated child maltreatment.

METHODS. A total of 7223 Australian mother-infant pairs were monitored prospectively over 15 years. In 6621 (91.7%) cases, the duration of breastfeeding was analyzed with respect to child maltreatment (including neglect, physical abuse, and emotional abuse), on the basis of substantiated child protection agency reports. Multinomial logistic regression was used to compare no maltreatment with nonmaternal and maternally perpetrated maltreatment and to adjust for confounding in 5890 cases with complete data (81.5%). Potential confounders included sociodemographic factors, pregnancy wantedness, substance abuse during pregnancy, postpartum employment, attitudes regarding infant caregiving, and symptoms of anxiety or depression.

RESULTS. Of 512 children with substantiated maltreatment reports, >60% experienced ~1 episode of maternally perpetrated abuse or neglect (4.3% of the cohort). The odds ratio for maternal maltreatment increased as breastfeeding duration decreased, with the odds of maternal maltreatment for nonbreastfed children being 4.8 times the odds for children breastfed for ~ 4 months. After adjustment for confounding, the odds for nonbreastfed infants remained 2.6 times higher, with no association seen between breastfeeding and nonmaternal maltreatment. Maternal neglect was the only maltreatment subtype associated independently with breastfeeding duration.

CONCLUSION. Among other factors, breastfeeding may help to protect against maternally perpetrated child maltreatment, particularly child neglect.

PEDIATRICS Vol. 123 No. 2 February 2009, pp. 483-493

Taste is hereditary. How amazing!

To anybody who knows how pervasive heredity is in medical matters, the first part of my headline above is the obvious conclusion to be drawn from the matters reported below. But that is not of course the conclusion that the "researcher" below draws in the never-ending but quite futile attempt to get people to be slimmer than is their natural tendency

CHILDREN copy their parents' food choices, University of South Australia scientists have found. Researcher Dorota Zarnowiecki has studied the health and not so healthy habits of more than 200 families. She gave them options ranging from fruit and vegetables to lollies and potato chips and found children's choices tended to echo their parents', despite other influences.

Ms Zarnowiecki, who will now do a PhD looking at the dietary behaviours of older children, said the findings had important implications for obesity prevention programs. "We looked at five and six year olds because we wanted to gauge their parents' influence, as they haven't had that much exposure to the outside world," she said. "(This) shows firstly that young children are able to learn and . . . distinguish between healthy and unhealthy foods. It also shows that parents are really important at that young age, so it could be used even in pre-natal classes." Ms Zarnowiecki said it was much easier to teach children healthy habits than to try to change them when they got older.

Yesterday, a parliamentary inquiry was told an obesity campaign featuring a young man who becomes fatter as he grows older [Most people do] has struck a chord with more than six million Australians. The $30 million Measure Up campaign, which encourages Australians to measure their waists, has been described by Health Department experts as highly successful. Giving evidence to a parliamentary inquiry into the nation's obesity crisis, experts said the campaign had resulted in 6.8 million hits to the website. Overweight Australians have requested almost 300,000 healthy eating plans and tape measures from the site. "It has attracted a great deal of interest," Health Department first assistant secretary Jennifer Bryant said yesterday. The campaign only began in October 2008, with the website averaging 3259 hits a day since then.

Committee chairman Steve Georganas welcomed the success of the promotion, saying it was a "very visual campaign". Ms Bryant said she believed the campaign had been successful as research had shown obese people understood they had to do something to tackle their weight - but did not know where to start. She said simplicity was crucial in obesity campaigns. "Eat smaller serves, drink water and keep the messages as simple and straightforward as you can," she said. [But does all that "success" translate into any weight loss? That question is too hard, apparently]


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