Findings published in Pediatrics (Feb 2009) of a 15-year study in Australia found that breastfeeding may help to protect against maternal neglect.

The authors suggest that breastfeeding may enhance mother-infant bonding through release of the neuropeptide oxytocin, which helps to elevate mood and reduce maternal anxiety and physiological stress. This finding is also consistent with animal models where oxytocin appears to influence maternal behavior.  The physiology for maternal bonding and breastfeeding behavior may lead to new ways of understanding attachment and subsequent outcomes.

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Does Breastfeeding Protect Against Substantiated Child Abuse and Neglect? A 15-Year Cohort Study (Pediatric, February, 2009)