Breastfeeding protective against Autism

(88 Posts)

What do you guys make of this news:

"Breastfed children have higher oxytocin levels, boosting their chances of evading Autism. Medical researchers have further confirmed that breastfeeding significantly strengthens the nervous system of both the child and its mother."

autumnsmum Wed 18-Dec-13 16:10:01

Tbh I find it really upsetting I ff all my three ds and dd2 have autism I am dealing with it every day I don't need to read something that makes it into my fault

AcrylicPlexiglass Wed 18-Dec-13 16:13:43

Looks like bollocks, afaics.

AcrylicPlexiglass Can you elaborate?

MrsVaughnRice Wed 18-Dec-13 16:18:05

If it was actually well founded then I don't think that hurting people's feelings should stop facts about child health risks being publicised. But I'd need to see actual evidence rather than a random blog post from the UAE.

AcrylicPlexiglass Wed 18-Dec-13 16:21:47

What evidence is there that autism and oxytocin levels are causally connected in any way? What medical researchers? What research?

hazeyjane Wed 18-Dec-13 16:26:47

researchers have uncovered highly compelling evidence that mothers have the power to reduce the number of Autism cases

sounds a little too like the idea of 'refrigerator mothers' being the 'cause' of autism.

I think that autism is more likely to do with genetics and brain wiring (highly scientific, obviously!!)

zzzzz Wed 18-Dec-13 16:29:32


Levels of ASD are the same across ff and bf children, culture, religion, economic background...

All but one of mine were bf, and my 5th I expressed for (or are we saying the silicon nipple is the problem?

AutumnsMum you have nothing to feel guilty about.

zzzzz Wed 18-Dec-13 16:31:42

FWIW I think ASD is caused by isolation as a result of processing disorder.

ouryve Wed 18-Dec-13 16:32:55

Well 4 years breastfeeding between them didn't magically prevent my two from having ASD.

It's such a lovely way to guilt trip mothers, is it not?hmm

dietstartstmoz Wed 18-Dec-13 16:34:04

Its bollocks. Both of mine were breastfed. Ds2 has a diagnosis. Ds1 doesn't but undoubtedly has some quirks.

autumnsmum Wed 18-Dec-13 16:37:53

Sorry I've reported this post to mumsnet hq we are a lovely supportive group here and I'm sure between us we have bf and ff and often both .i just don't need telling on some unheard of piece of research that I caused the daily struggles of ds and the fact that dd2 will probably never live an independent life I could cry

MrsVaughnRice Wed 18-Dec-13 16:39:36

It's not bollocks because it's guilt-trippy. It's not bollocks because my sample of 1 bf child is autistic. It's bollocks because there's no bloody evidence for it.

ouryve Wed 18-Dec-13 16:50:03

Of course, the conference completely missed the point that oxytocin doesn't persist in the bloodstream and brain. Whatever levels of oxytocin I induced in my boys, the effect is long gone over 5 years later.

Of course, this is the UAE and I'm suspecting that mother blaming might just be a bit more prevalent over there, even than it is over here.

Oxytocin-autism links have been in the news recently, but because researchers are proposing testing a nasal spray in individuals with asperger's syndrome.
More of an explanation of the theory behind the research, here

HotheadPaisan Wed 18-Dec-13 16:50:48

No idea if any kernel of truth in it, but even if there were I would think the effects are extremely unlikely to overcome the neurological and physiological root of autism.

If it makes anyone feel any better both my DC bfed for 4 years each, one is autistic and one asthmatic.

And this bit is utter nonsense, there is no prevention, it's a neurological and physiological difference/disorder, you're going to have to go some to significantly impact the development of the brain and nervous system:

“Although there is a lot that we are still learning about Autism, it’s safe to say that one mother can do more to prevent Autism in her child than all the doctors combined. Once a child is diagnosed with Autism, we should still do everything possible to help them contribute positively to society. But if we only focus on therapy, we are missing half the story: prevention is always better than cure.”

HECTheHeraldAngelsSing Wed 18-Dec-13 16:55:07

I didnt read one single piece of scientific evidence in that article. It was totally flawed and furthermore it says that mothers can prevent autism which is as untrue as saying that breastfeeding could undo downsvsyndrome.

Above is a link which states that a gene has been found that links to asd.

I am suspicious of the impartiality of a conference entitled the Human Lactation Conference. Agenda much?

If there is an actual scientific study with results, data, to back up this claim about bf, then I would love to see it. Its certainly not referred to in that article.
atm it reads like autistic children dont bond (which is untrue and shows a fundamental lack in understanding. My two have autism and theyre bonded just fine thanks) breastfeeding is bonding therefore breastfeeding can prevent a genetic developmental disorder that some people think stops people from feeling!!

zzzzz Wed 18-Dec-13 17:02:23

"atm it reads like autistic children dont bond (which is untrue and shows a fundamental lack in understanding. My two have autism and theyre bonded just fine thanks)"

^^this is how it read to me too. Ds is very very bonded too.

StarlightMcKingsThree Wed 18-Dec-13 17:13:53

Bloody ridiculous!

Breastfeeding is ace. I'm a huge advocate. Doesn't prevent autism. Might be linked in a complex way but no aspect of that can be targeted by the mother and what she does or doesn't do.

I did a quick search in pubmed - there's loads of research out there:

"The emergence of autism in young children appears to result from dysmyelination of brain neurons, related to inadequate supply of insulin-like growth factor (IGF) in the newborn"

Protective function of oxytocin:

Effect of suboptimal breast-feeding on occurrence of autism:

And this is interesting:

"The decision to bottle feed your last child may unwittingly put your next child at risk of being autistic."

Formula (deterioration of bovine casomorphin elimination) as a risk factor for autism:

StarlightMcKingsThree Wed 18-Dec-13 17:16:35

Hot I believe in prevention of some of the autisms, or at least the prevention of trigger in a genetically predisposed child.

StarlightMcKingsThree I agree. Surely, this info is important to share. Would MN really delete it?

tabulahrasa Wed 18-Dec-13 17:24:42

I can't be bothered reading it...mostly because if it was to do with BF FF and things like skin to skin for oxytocin - the wrong one of my DC is autistic.

StarlightMcKingsThree Wed 18-Dec-13 17:25:46

Wombles, this isn't 'information'. It's pie in the sky, like loads of stuff.

If the research had any credibility then us on this board would already be discussing it obsessively.

It's interesting to have a 'discussion' about bfing in the context of autism, and it is interesting to have a discussion on the potential for preventative and treatment measures as well as the ethical dilemma of the desirability for such treatments and preventative actions.

We know that breastfeeding boosts immune systems. We know some ASDs have interesting immune issues coinciding. We can talk about that but it is ridiculous for anyone to go from that to not breastfeeding your child might have GIVEN them ASD. That just isn't true and never can be.

HotheadPaisan Wed 18-Dec-13 17:26:25

Maybe Star - DS1 was born via a crash emcs under GA, low heart-rate indicative of foetal distress etc. DP and I said just the other day that it had only just occurred to us that maybe some of his difficulties come from some kind of brain damage because of his difficult birth. But then I look around the rest of the family and think some of your genes, and yours, and yours and yours and mine, et voila, DS1.

zzzzz Wed 18-Dec-13 17:26:54

Why aren't you posting in the feeding section? Most of our children are far to old for formula or breast?

StarlightMcKingsThree Wed 18-Dec-13 17:28:24

In any case, my Ds was showing signs of ASD at 6 weeks old having had nothing but breastmilk.

StarlightMcKingsThree Wed 18-Dec-13 17:29:56

'StarlightMcKingsThree I agree. Surely, this info is important to share. Would MN really delete it?'

Why is it important to share, and importantly, why is important to share here with mothers who may or may not have breastfed but most certainly can do nothing about it now? hmm

HoleySocksBatman Wed 18-Dec-13 17:34:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

autumnsmum Wed 18-Dec-13 17:34:31

Starlight dd2 was also showing signs of autism at six weeks .i want to clarify I think breast feeding is great I won't bore everyone with why I ff my second dcs after disaster with dd1 however I feel very sensitive about being told I may have caused autism in two of my three dcs

Why aren't you posting in the feeding section? Most of our children are far to old for formula or breast?

If there is a genetic link to autism, so that those with the same genes are predisposed to develop autism, then surely parents of autistic children should be informed for future siblings' sake?

autumnsmum Wed 18-Dec-13 17:46:57

Please go and post in feeding or pregnancy I really ,really don't need this today

TheLeastAccomplishedBennetGirl Wed 18-Dec-13 17:49:28

"then surely parents of autistic children should be informed for future siblings' sake?"

there's the blame, right there

zzzzz Wed 18-Dec-13 17:50:43

What if there isn't? Surely you're missing huge swathes of risky bottle feeding mothers?

TheLeastAccomplishedBennetGirl Wed 18-Dec-13 17:51:33

sorry pressed 'post' too soon

and that's why you shouldn't be posting this here

StarlightMcKingsThree Wed 18-Dec-13 17:54:01

"then surely parents of autistic children should be informed for future siblings' sake?"

Why? What do you think is wrong with having autism anyway?

Piss off!

zzzzz Wed 18-Dec-13 17:57:04

star I was thinking the same thing. Having a child with ASD isn't the worst thing that can happen by a long long way.

autumnsmum Wed 18-Dec-13 18:00:10

Star and zzzz well put !

busybob Wed 18-Dec-13 18:14:05

breast feeding for 12months didn't stop my ds2 from being/becoming autistic it just another load of crap to make mothers feel guilty.
why even post it ?

PolterGoose Wed 18-Dec-13 18:18:28



autumnsmum Wed 18-Dec-13 18:28:18

I was at dd2s Christmas concert today I'm sure none of the parents there would have wanted to have been warned about their choldren

KingRollo Wed 18-Dec-13 18:31:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

I have reported this thread. I dont think its in good taste to post this here. All it will do is induce guilt to people who have enough on thier plate.

FWIW I BF DS until 9 months when he wouldnt eat or drink anything else.

Ephiny Wed 18-Dec-13 18:33:40

It sounds like nonsense to me. Even if there is a statistical correlation between autism and a certain method of feeding, it doesn't mean the one thing caused the other. For example, maybe mothers with autistic traits (who are more likely to have a child with the same) are less likely to breastfeed, perhaps due to sensory issues ? Or maybe autistic children might have more difficulty with feeding as babies? All kinds of possible reasons there might be a link (if there even is, I wouldn't assume it based on one random blog post).

I agree with Star and zzzz too. Autism isn't some terrible disease or shameful affliction. It can certainly make life more difficult in many ways for the autistic person and their family (though a fair amount of that is down to intolerance and lack of reasonable accommodation by others), and that shouldn't be downplayed, but that's not to say autistic people should be 'cured' or eradicated 'prevented' from existing. It's not like having cancer or something. There are lots of positives too. There's more than one valid way of being.

tabulahrasa Wed 18-Dec-13 18:34:09

My DS will be 18 in Spring...he's firmly of the opinion that being autistic is superior, that the world would be a much better, more logical place if everyone was autistic and that inventions would be much more advanced, the space programme would be going strong, though perhaps there would be less parties...

I'm not so sure he's wrong tbh, lol.

HotheadPaisan Wed 18-Dec-13 18:39:56

I don't blame myself or feel guilty. I wish others didn't feel like that too. Really, be kind to yourselves.

HECTheHeraldAngelsSing Wed 18-Dec-13 18:41:33

And? The parents would choose to do what? Not have any more children?

HotheadPaisan Wed 18-Dec-13 18:46:39

Breastfeed as a preventative measure Hec, obv. Because that works. Trufact.

Ephiny Wed 18-Dec-13 18:58:04

I clicked some of your 'research' links too, OP. Two of them are articles in 'Medical Hypotheses.' As the name suggests, this is a journal specifically intended for debate and speculation around observations and hypotheses which do not have evidence to support them yet. It does not publish the results of studies or clinical trials. These speculations (while sometimes interesting) are certainly not intended to inform public health advice or clinical practice.

Two of the others don't really seem to be about autism at all (though I can't read the full text of the one in Polish hmm). The paper in Nutrition is more interesting, but the authors note in their conclusion that the study is limited by lack of data about formula use.

I'm not sure you are entirely familiar with how to do a systematic literature review (it's not just doing a keyword search in Pubmed and cherry-picking the results you like the look of) or that you have read and understood the papers you're referencing.

I also have no idea why you'd post this in the Special Needs section, other than to push some anti-formula agenda or try to make mothers feel needlessly guilty.

Pile of shite! DS was EBFd for six months and was BF for a year, he's still autistic.
I can't imagine how crap I'd feel reading that if I'd FF, that's not on.

HotheadPaisan Wed 18-Dec-13 19:11:28

I'm struggling a bit with ideas making people feel guilty. I understand the cultural context and why it happens but whether the intent is there or not the net effect is that only you feel crap about something, not those putting the ideas forward. I would really try not to give them the satisfaction, especially if it is intentional.

Mollyweasley Wed 18-Dec-13 19:46:10

The reason why a person has autism is far deeper than whether the mum breastfeeds or not. I have autism and even though it makes life harder, I am proud of it. The reason behind it matters only a little. How I make people see that there is so many reason to be proud of it and how I show them how they can help us be more easily part of society is what concerns me, and that is very difficult to achieve.

ouryve Wed 18-Dec-13 19:50:03

In the effect of suboptimal breastfeeding summary (which was pretty sparse, to be honest, particularly where methods were concerned) no mention was made what the adjustment was made for. Were the parents in both cohorts screened for ASD, themselves? If not, what's to rule out that, actually, more of the non-breastfeeding mothers had undiagnosed ASD, with the double effect that they might find breastfeeding more difficult than NT mothers as well as passing on genes predisposing to autism?

My youngest is 7.5. He has severe autism. He breastfed for 29 months. Exclusively for the first 8. My eldest is 10, with autism and ADHD. He self weaned at 18 months, after several months of waning interest. He found it hard to tolerate the prolonged contact involved. If we hadn't already taken steps to ensure more future siblings, I have no idea what you would expect me to do to prevent them from having autism, wombles.

queryremelatonin Wed 18-Dec-13 19:50:21

I love the way that the "compelling evidence" is so compelling that they decide against actually including it in the article.

zzzzz Wed 18-Dec-13 19:59:27

I don't think wombles really thought this through do you?

StarlightMcKingsThree Wed 18-Dec-13 20:03:08

I think there is an discussion to be had about the role of breastfeeding in neurological conditions (as there is for other health/development issues), both the biological aspect and the relationship aspect, but not like this.

I'm very pro-bfing but am appalled at the way it has been presented here.

VesuviusPoovius Wed 18-Dec-13 20:06:28

In my small, personal sample of 4 (BF) DC, I could argue that syntocin induction caused ASD, or ventouse delivery, or having paracetamol at 6 hours old, or being born on a Monday, or having brown eyes. Or not. Because only one of my 4 had those and he has a diagnosis of ASD.

The reason why a person has autism is far deeper than whether the mum breastfeeds or not.

I agree, but bf could be part of the jigsaw. Or do the parents of autistic children not want to understand what created it? I can understand this stance (the horse has bolted) but, surely open discussion is beneficial for society as a whole.

I'm very pro-bfing but am appalled at the way it has been presented here.

How should it be presented? Can you go ahead and do so, so we can have a discussion which is deemed acceptable.

ouryve Wed 18-Dec-13 20:17:32

How should it be presented?

Not as a mother blaming exercise. Not as a warning that autism in future siblings would be prevented by breastfeeding them. With a bit of basic tact.

StarlightMcKingsThree Wed 18-Dec-13 20:21:18

Not as if Autism is some kind of brain parasite caused by the mother's inability to do something in a culture and context that makes it rarely possible.

There IS a discussion to be had, but I'd rather not do it with people so narrow-minded and ill-informed it could cause harm, not least by the assumption that anyone OUGHT to behave in a way to minimise autism.

zzzzz Wed 18-Dec-13 20:22:50

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

StarlightMcKingsThree Wed 18-Dec-13 20:23:53

I wish the horse bloody well would bolt.........

StarlightMcKingsThree Wed 18-Dec-13 20:25:05

How is not having autism in our society a benefit?

Do you live in Hertfordshire by any chance?

zzzzz Wed 18-Dec-13 20:29:53

How is not having autism in our society a benefit?

HotheadPaisan Wed 18-Dec-13 20:32:17

Wobbles that's an insensitive thing to say. What is your motivation or interest in this? Just interested so I can understand where you are conning from and why. This is not an academic exercise for people on here.

autumnsmum Wed 18-Dec-13 20:33:04

According to mumsnet hq these horrible statements by op can stand as they believe in free speech .my feelings don't seem to matter .all of us on here live with our children's and sometime our own disabilities every day .we are all helping each other the suggestion that I could have caused done something I did has caused two of my Dcs issues makes me feel awful .ds and dd2 are amazing .i am interested in the causes of autism but tbh tonight I feel like leaving mumsnet

zzzzz Wed 18-Dec-13 20:35:48

She chose to post here.

Presumably she hoped her audience would include mothers of children with disabilities.

I think the only rationale offered so far is so we can be educated about how to breastfeed our way out of reducing any more children with ASD.

hazeyjane Wed 18-Dec-13 20:44:28

I have asked whether MNHQ would at least move this to the feeding section.

It seems an odd thing to do to start this 'discussion' here, where it could understandably cause a lot of pain.

Don't go Autumnsmum.

zzzzz Wed 18-Dec-13 20:45:01

Producing, not reducing.

Don't go anywhere autumn MNSN belongs to us not HQ.

zzzzz Wed 18-Dec-13 20:47:03

hazey I suggested the same thing.

autumnsmum Wed 18-Dec-13 20:48:46

Thank you hazey and zzzz I had good reasons for ff Dcs .also dd2 had concert today so feeling v emotional .hazey hope your ds gets bettersoon

PolterGoose Wed 18-Dec-13 20:55:05

autumn (((hugs)))

HotheadPaisan Wed 18-Dec-13 20:55:54

I think it should be moved too. Have we got a Fighty Topic? This one is quite cross functional.

StarlightMcKingsThree Wed 18-Dec-13 20:58:16

AIBU to think that if more mothers breastfed then society wouldn't have to face the consequence of autism.

<link to bad research to support claim>

ouryve Wed 18-Dec-13 21:01:32

<post commenting on how autism wasn't so popular or fashionable in my day>

zzzzz Wed 18-Dec-13 21:05:49

<misspelled gibberish followed by ubiquitous apology and iPad cursing and reference to fat fingers>

PolterGoose Wed 18-Dec-13 21:07:11

AIBU to think that some people are cunts?

NotAnotherStuffedTurkey Wed 18-Dec-13 21:07:19

Is there a topic called Goady Shit Stirring Blamers that this thread can be happily relocated to? angry

StarlightMcKingsThree Wed 18-Dec-13 21:07:51


Tangfasticlady Wed 18-Dec-13 21:08:44

Breastfed my son for three years, hasn't prevented him from having an ASD I'm afraid.

zzzzz Wed 18-Dec-13 21:09:04


HotheadPaisan Wed 18-Dec-13 21:09:19

All the lols, nice one people!

StarlightMcKingsThree Wed 18-Dec-13 21:10:01

Did you use both boobs?

Coz I read somewhere, that breatfeeding only prevents autism if you feed from the right boob only. If you feed from the left only you give your child ADHD.

PolterGoose Wed 18-Dec-13 21:13:42

For anyone who hasn't realised, this thread was started in SN Chat. Unsurprisingly, many parents of children with autism aren't too happy to be told that they might have caused their child's autism. Within living memory children with autism were removed from their families as a result of what was considered to be maternal deprivation, the 'refrigerator mother' theory. Suggesting that formula feeding causes autism is deeply offensive. We have enough shit to deal with without more being thrown.

zzzzz Wed 18-Dec-13 21:14:19

That explains a lot, star , thanks.

autumnsmum Wed 18-Dec-13 21:15:08

Aha starlight you're on to something there if I'd used a different brand of formula would I have given my Dcs adhd

LalyRawr Wed 18-Dec-13 21:15:09

Another bollocks vote.

My mum breast fed my brother and not me. We both had Fragile X. No amount of breast milk can change your DNA I'm afraid.

ImAnElfJeSuisUneElf Wed 18-Dec-13 21:21:19


MNHQ obviously thought it was offensive enough to move, but not to remove.

What a load of parp.

devilinside Wed 18-Dec-13 21:50:21

Millions of you have autism, you just don't know it, the original thinkers, the computer programmers, the engineers, the poets and musicians, the scientists, the lecturers, the artists. most working at their special interests, unlikely to be motivated by money.

I have AS, I didn't know it, it wasn't diagnosed when I was a child. My son has ASD (breastfed until two), DD has aspergers, the quirky members of my family have it (ie all of them), It's genetic.

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