Breastfeeding relaxation improves infant growth and behaviour
Breastfeeding relaxation may alter breast milk composition resulting in better infant growth and behaviour, say researchers at the 49th European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) 2016 in Athens, Greece.
Breastfeeding mothers attending antenatal clinics in Malaysia from March to December 2014 were recruited and randomized into intervention (n=33) or control groups (n=31). [ESPGHAN 2016, abstract N-O-013]
Home visits to access infant growth, maternal stress and anxiety at 2-3 months (HV1), 6-8 months (HV2), and 12-14 months (HV3) were conducted. The intervention group listened to a guided breastfeeding meditation audiotape daily for 2 weeks, after each home visit. Height, weight and head circumference of the infant were measured, and before and after breast milk samples were collected, at each home visit. After each home visit, the mothers were also asked to record infant behaviour in a validated 3-day diary.
The researchers used perceived-stress-scale and beck-anxiety-inventory to measure infant outcomes including mean sleeping time, awake and happy, feeding and distress at 1-2 weeks post HV1 and HV2.
Infants in the intervention group had significantly longer sleep duration at HV2 (856±98 versus 774±94 minutes; p=0.017). Increased relaxation audiotape use by breastfeeding mothers was positively associated with increased infant sleep time (~80 minutes longer; p=0.008), longer duration of infant sleep at HV2 (p=0.035), infant weight (p<0.01), and BMI (p<0.01).
The researchers found that infant body mass index (BMI) at HV2 was positively associated with this increased sleep time (p=0.003) and negatively associated with time awake (p=0.025). Increased infant awake time was detrimental to weight gain from HV1 to HV3 (p=0.019), and BMI at HV3 (p=0.02).
“[The] altered behavioural pattern may have resulted in additional energy being available for growth, which is consistent with observed effects of the intervention on weight and BMI. Mothers who are less stressed may have favourably altered breast milk composition by either changing calorie/hormonal levels that might affect infant growth and behaviour,” said lead author Dr. Nurul Husna M Shukri from the UCL Institute of Child Health, Childhood Nutrition Research Centre, London, United Kingdom. This, she added, would be their area of future research.