Do infants who are breastfed develop better relationships with their mothers compared to formula-fed infants?

Last updated: February 20, 2022
We cannot identify an answer to this question. This could be because the studies in this list found that there was insufficient evidence to reach a conclusion. It also could be because we were not able to identify the answers that the studies gave to the question based on the texts of the studies. As additional studies on this question are published, we may be able to identify an answer.
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Chart summary of 2 studies examining this question

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All labels of Literature Reviews and source quality are assigned by State of K. All labels of High Quality Source are assigned based on whether the publication in which the article appeared was ranked as Q1 by Scimago Institutions Rankings. Certain well-regarded think tanks are also given this label.

Literature Reviews
Although we recommend you consider all of the studies below, we believe the following studies are literature reviews, which survey and evaluate many studies on this question:

SUMMARIES OF STUDIES
Total studies in list: 2
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1
Associations Between Breastfeeding and Mother–Infant Relationships: A Systematic Review
"Introduction: Breastfeeding has been associated to an improved mother–child bond, although this link is lacking the sufficient empirical support.Aims: The aims of this study were to carry out a systematic review as a continuation to the one by Jansen et al., and to clarify the link between breastfeeding and mother–infant relationships.Materials and Methods: Data sources: A search was conducted using PsycINFO, MEDLINE, and CINAHL (2008–2018), using both free text words and subject headings. Additional hand-searching was performed. Study selection: The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) framework guided (the reporting of) the study selection and data extraction. Eligible articles were subsequently selected by title, abstract, and full text review. Data extraction: Data regarding study setting, participants, breastfeeding, mother–infant relationships, and outcome measures were extracted in a systematic way.Results of Data Synthesis: Ultimately, 13 articles were included. Most studies were conducted in Europe (46.15%) and were nonexperimental studies (92.3%). Eight studies were longitudinal, using between two and five assessment time points. The instruments used to assess the bond between mother and child showed great variability. From the studies, 8 (61.5%) employed self-report measures and four assessed maternal perception. Others used open-ended questions regarding the maternal lactation process or about the mother's activity while breastfeeding. Other measures used were maternal perception of her baby and personality variables associated to breastfeeding. Five articles studied the bond using external observations of the interactions between mother–child. The quality of the studies (Medical Education Research Studies Quality Instrument [MERSQI]) was overall fair to good.Conclusion: It is complicated to extract generalizable results because of the conceptual and instrumental variability of the mother–child relationship. This association is complex and the way in which breastfeeding is carried out would appear to be a decisive factor, influenced in turn by additional variables that should also be taken into account. The relationship indicators most frequently associated to breastfeeding are maternal sensitivity and secure attachment."
AUTHOR
Cecilia Peñacoba
PUBLISHED
2019 Breastfeeding Medicine
Literature Review
High Quality Source
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2
Breastfeeding and the mother–infant relationship—A review
"A positive effect of breastfeeding on the mother–infant relationship is often assumed in the scientific literature, but this has not been systematically reviewed. This review aims to clarify the role of breastfeeding in the mother–infant relationship, which is conceptualized as the maternal bond toward the infant and infant attachment toward the mother. Our findings indicate that theoretical mechanisms through which breastfeeding may enhance the maternal bond or infant attachment (i.e., endocrine and sensory factors involved in breastfeeding) can be found in both humans and animal models. However, the few empirical studies investigating this association have not found convincing support for a relation between breastfeeding and the quality of the mother–infant relationship. We therefore conclude that assumptions on a positive role of breastfeeding on the mother–infant relationship are not supported by empirical evidence, and recommendation of breastfeeding should solely be based on its well-documented positive effects on infant and maternal health."
AUTHOR
Jarno Jansen
PUBLISHED
2008 Developmental Review
Literature Review
High Quality Source
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