Postnatal depression 'less likely if you breastfeed'

New mothers who successfully breastfeed their babies are less likely to get postnatal depression, new research suggests.

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Cambridge: Scientists say breastfeeding could be good for your mental health

New research suggests that breastfeeding could help stop new mums getting postnatal depression.

The breast versus bottle debate has polarised opinion for years - but now scientists in Cambridge say that mothers who breastfeed, dramatically reduce their risk of developing mental health problems.

The mums of almost 14,000 babies took part in the study - one of the biggest of its kind undertaken.

Postnatal depression 'less likely if you breastfeed'

New mothers who successfully breastfeed their babies are less likely to get postnatal depression, new research suggests.

Woman breastfeeding her baby. Credit: PA Images

Experts, including scientists from the University of Cambridge, surveyed women who had almost 14,000 babies during the 1990s when their children were two, eight, 21 and 32 months old.

Their study, published in the journal Maternal and Child Health, found that mothers who planned to breastfeed and who actually went on to breastfeed were around 50% less likely to become depressed than mothers who had not planned to, and who did not, breastfeed.

Those who planned to breastfeed, but who did not go on to breastfeed, were more than twice as likely to become depressed as mothers who had not planned to and who did not, they found.

"Breastfeeding has well-established benefits to babies, in terms of their physical health and cognitive development; our study shows that it also benefits the mental health of mothers."

– Dr Maria Iacovou, University of Cambridge.

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