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November 2019 (Vol. 4 Issue 9)

Should we be breastfeeding longer?
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

Should we be breastfeeding longer? image

How long should we breastfeed? If our ancestors are anything to go by, it should be for far longer than we're currently doing.

Anthropologists reckon that people living a million years ago were breastfeeding their young for three to four years—around twice the time that health advisory groups such as the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend to mothers today.

Examining fossilized teeth that are around one million years old, scientists from Bristol University reckon that the lengthy breastfeeding of early ancestors of the Homo lineage contributed to the brain development that makes us so distinct today.

However, there are differences among the early humans, and other sub-species were weaning their young after just a few months, although breastfeeding may have continued until the birth of the next child, the scientists say.


References

(Source: Science Advances, 2019; 5: eaax3250)

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