Breast-feeding in infancy 'lowers the risk' of a child suffering from depression in adulthoodGerman researchers find that amount of time a person was breast-fed has no bearing on the severity of later depression
12:57 GMT, 10 September 2012
Adults are less likely to suffer from depression if they were breast-fed as infants, according to scientists.
However, the amount of time a person was breast-fed has no bearing on the severity of later depression.
German researchers studied 52 people with an average age of 44 who were being treated for severe depression at an inpatient facility.
Nurturing: Adults are less likely to suffer from depression if they were breast-fed as infants, according to scientists
The patients were considered to have been breast-fed if they, or their mothers, stated that they been nursed for more than two weeks.
They then contrasted these results with those gathered from 106 people without mental health problems.
The study revealed that some 73 per cent of those who didn't suffer from depression had been breast-fed, compared to just 46 per cent of people with depression.
Despite these results, the scientists said that there is no cause-and-effect relationship between breast-feeding, or lack thereof, and depression, reports MyHealthNewsDaily.
Firstly, a mother who breastfeeds might be more likely to go on to provide her child with a more loving environment growing up, thus lowering the chance of a child suffering from depression in adulthood.
Secondly, breastfeeding could be linked to an increase in the hormone oxytocin being released in mothers, which protects against stress.
Thirdly, the researchers said, breast milk could contain components that help prevent against depression.
Lastly, breast-feeding may lower the risk for diseases, like hypertension, which have been shown to be associated with an increased risk for depression.
The study is published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.
Its authors claim it is the first report showing an association between breast-feeding and the occurrence of depression later on in adulthood.
However, they admit that the limited sample size and the inevitably retrospective nature of this analysis are limitations.