Breast-Feeding Reduces Harm of Smoking in Pregnancy

Published Online: Monday, September 1, 2003

    The advantages of breast-feeding on infants? mental development could outweigh some of the harm caused by smoking while pregnant.The results of a recent study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, showed that 9-year-olds whose mothers smoked during pregnancy and then breast-fed them for more than 3 weeks scored similarly on standardized tests to breast-fed children of nonsmokers.

    Study author Laura Batstra, PhD, of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, stressed that the findings do not suggest that smoking while pregnant is acceptable if women give their babies breast milk. Although it is unclear how breast-feeding might help counteract the effects of smoking during pregnancy, Dr. Batstra said that babies might benefit from breast milk?s high concentration of a type of fatty acid that has proven to aid brain development.

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