Mother's Milk


Doctors agree that when it comes to feeding your baby, breast is best. Most research has focused on health advantages to the infant and, more recently, on physiological and
psychological benefits for the mother. Now research highlights a mechanism by which nursing may influence the mother-infant bond: it seems the brain of a breast-feeding mother is
especially receptive to signals from her baby.

Graduate student Pilyoung Kim and her colleagues at Yale University’s Child Study Center used functional MRI to scan the brains of 20 women while exposing them to their
baby’s cry or image. Preliminary results suggest that three weeks after giving birth, breast-feeding mothers showed greater responses to indicators of their own infant (as
compared with those of another baby) than formula-feeding mothers did, especially in limbic, hypothalamic and midbrain areas—brain regions involved in emotion and motivation.

Rachel Dvoskin


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