06/01/2010 14:27 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

New Research Suggests Breastfeeding Might Not Be As Beneficial As First Thought

The breastfeeding debate has kicked off again, with new research suggesting that breast milk isn't quite as beneficial for mother and baby as previously suggested.

Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have looked at the relationship between breastfeeding and healthy children, and believe the link isn't quite as strong as initially believed. The study confirms that breastfed babies tend to be slightly healthier than bottle-fed babies, but the results suggest this is not down to the actual breast milk.

Instead, the research points towards a theory that a baby's health is down to the conditions of the womb. The healthier the womb, the more prepared a baby is to be able to breastfeed.

The researchers believe there is a link between the level of male hormones in pregnant women and the ability and frequency a new mother can breastfeed. The higher the level of male hormones, the harder nursing can be. Professor Sven M. Carlsen believes a child's health is more like to be dictated by the placenta, which converts the testosterone and oestrogen.

The study raised a few more interesting theories.

Women who smoke, are overweight or suffer from PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) all have higher levels of testosterone, so will struggle with breastfeeding. They also presented results that suggest women find it easier to breastfeed as they get older.

The basic message from this study is for any new mums to relax if they struggle to breastfeed. These findings confirm that breastfeeding is not simply down to whether you want to do it or not. A healthy diet and attitude during pregnancy is just as important.

Source: Alpha Galileo