South Bend doctor gives advice as new study adds to breast feeding debate

The South Bend Clinic's Dr. Thomas Soisson // WSBT 22 photo

A new study shows there are no long-term cognitive benefits to breast feeding, but the study doesn't say there are no benefits at all.

The study claims they can't prove any long-term benefits. A local doctor says there's no question that there are some helpful aspects of breast feeding.

The question is whether there are cognitive benefits. The study in Pediatrics found that breast feeding has little impact on long-term cognitive development and behavior.

Researchers evaluated more than 7,000 Irish children born full term, when they were 9 months old, again at three years and finally at 5 years of age.

They found that children who were breast fed for six months or more had lower rates of hyperactivity and improved problem-solving skills at three, but those differences were insignificant by the time the child reached their fifth birthday.

"I’m sure there are hundreds if not, thousands of other studies that would go one way or the other saying there is or isn't benefit,” said Dr. Thomas Soisson of the South Bend Clinic. “Bottom line is: we know there's benefits of breastfeeding, whether or not we can prove there are cognitive benefits at five years of age in one study, maybe not."

The South Bend Clinic's Dr. Thomas Soisson says there are some clear benefits to breast feeding, like a strong bond between mother and child, and health benefits such as fewer ear infections and allergies, and fewer problems with illness overall.

He says there are other factors to consider when measuring success in children, but at the end of the day what matters is having a happy and healthy child.

"If you are not able to breast feed a child that does not guarantee at all that they're not going to do as well as their peers,” Soisson said. “As a matter of fact, if you pay the same amount of attention that parents who breastfeed do, if you pay that same amount of devotion and attention to your child and you try your absolute best your child is going to do well."

One critic of the study also was not impressed with some of the nontraditional methods used by the researchers.

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