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Journal Article

Psychological effects of breastfeeding on children and mothers


Grossmann,  Tobias
Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA;
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Krol, K. M., & Grossmann, T. (2018). Psychological effects of breastfeeding on children and mothers. Bundesgesundheitsblatt, Gesundheitsforschung, Gesundheitsschutz, 61(8), 977-985. doi:10.1007/s00103-018-2769-0.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-9C68-B
While the nutritional and physical health benefits of breastfeeding are well established, accumulating research demonstrates the far-reaching psychological effects of breastfeeding on children and their mothers. Here, we provide a non-exhaustive review of the empirical evidence, showing that breastfeeding impacts children’s brain, cognitive, and socio-emotional development. In mothers, research is presented indicating that breastfeeding influences mood, affect, stress, and maternal care. The current review aims to provide a broad overview of existing findings on the psychological effects of breastfeeding, highlighting the important role that breastfeeding plays across several dimensions of psychological functioning. We also discuss the potential mechanisms that may underpin the observed effects, provide a constructive commentary on the limitations of the existing work, and put forth some considerations when evaluating this line of research.