Understanding the reality of breastfeeding benefits

Psychologist Polly Palumbo, PhD, shares advice for parents on the reality of breastfeeding benefits and how other factors may influence studies on the benefits of breastfeeding
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Understanding the reality of breastfeeding benefits

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Most parents are aware that there is a very large and very diverse body of research showing many benefits of breastfeeding baby, both for mom and for baby. These benefits include, lower risk of ear infection, lower respiratory illnesses, lower chance of childhood obesity, childhood leukemia; the list goes on and on. But what most parents do not know is that these benefits tend to be very small. In the research, the differences between those children who are breastfed and those who are not are actually very, very modest. The other thing that parents don't often hear, is that we can't be certain if the benefits are related to the breast feeding because women who breastfeed tend to be very different from women who don't. Women who breastfeed tend to be more educated and more affluent. They may be more health conscious, or they may be more aware of their children's needs. It is not at all clear.

Psychologist Polly Palumbo, PhD, shares advice for parents on the reality of breastfeeding benefits and how other factors may influence studies on the benefits of breastfeeding

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Polly Palumbo, PhD

Psychologist

Polly Palumbo, PhD, is a former research psychologist and founder of Momma Data, a non-profit organization that tracks the parenting media and checks on the scientific evidence behind claims about children’s health and well-being. As a research consultant, she reviews and decodes studies for parents, educators, journalists and organizations. In the past she’s conducted and collaborated on numerous research projects in psychology, health and education across academia, government and the private sector and has co-authored articles in leading academic journals and texts.  As an outspoken critic of the parenting media, the only thing she enjoys better than reading a great study is debunking a bad one on her Momma Data blog. It’s her mission to flush out misinformation in the media and coach parents how to judge news and evidence about kids.      

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