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Mothers Continue Nursing Their Older Children due to Health, Nutrition Benefits

First Posted: Oct 11, 2014 05:16 AM EDT

For mothers who continue to breastfeed their children beyond the age of 1 consider their child's physical and social development to be more important than the advice of health care professionals, family and friends.

The study was conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

To understand why some mothers continue to nurse their older children, the researchers conducted a survey on more than 50,000 U.S. women. The participants were aged between 18 and 50 years.

"The three most important reasons that mothers gave for extended nursing were the nutritional benefits of breast milk, the other health benefits of breast milk and the opportunity to build a stronger social bond with their baby," said principal investigator Alexis Tchaconas, research assistant, developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York.

To proceed with the study, the researchers designed an online survey in which they asked the mother to rank 15 factors that was linked to breastfeeding as 'very important', 'important', 'somewhat important' or 'not important'.

The survey was carried out via emails as well as Facebook groups and online chat rooms that were dedicated to breastfeeding support. Apart from the health benefits and bonding with their children, the other major factors that influenced the mothers to breastfeed their older children was enjoyment, the support of spouse or partner, and saving the formula money.

"Although most women felt comfortable discussing their decision to nurse their baby beyond 1 year of age with their child's pediatrician and with their own health care providers, the recommendations of these health care professionals were not identified as being important in terms of the mother's decision to extend nursing," said senior investigator Andrew Adesman, MD, FAAP, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York.

The finding was presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition in San Diego.

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