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Does breastfeeding prevent bed-wetting?

by Randall Neustaedter OMD

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Researchers may have discovered yet another benefit of breastfeeding for children. The association between breastfeeding and bed-wetting was investigated because both have a relationship to developmental progress in children.

Breastfeeding has been shown to result in improved visual, cognitive, and neurologic development in children. This association has been attributed (at least in part) to the presence of essential fatty acids in breast milk. And children who experience persistent bed-wetting tend to have more developmental delays compared to controls in clinical studies.

A study published in the July 2006 issue of Pediatrics showed that children between the ages of 5 and 13 with bed-wetting were breastfed for a significantly shorter period of time in infancy (an average of 3 months less) than children enrolled in the study who did not have bed-wetting. Another way of saying this is that children who were breastfed for more than 3 months had significantly less bed-wetting problems compared to children who breastfed less than 3 months. The study took place prior to the era of formula supplemented with the fatty acid DHA, which has a preventive effect on developmental problems in children.

The authors suggest that if further studies support their findings, then “breastfeeding could be viewed as the first true preventative approach toward bed-wetting.”

Barone JG, et al. Breastfeeding during infancy may protect against bed-wetting during childhood. Pediatrics July 2006; 118 (1):254-259.

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