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Study: If You’re Left-Handed, Try Asking Your Mum How Long You Were Breastfed As A Baby

Study: If You’re Left-Handed, Try Asking Your Mum How Long You Were Breastfed As A Baby

Scientists say that bottle feeding infants is associated with left-handedness.

Kirat Kaur

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Being left-handed in this right-handed world isn’t the easiest experience – your enemies range from writing with ink pens, to using scissors and worse, linked to increased risk of certain neurodevelopmental disorders like schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

But one of the biggest mysteries that have puzzled mankind for centuries, is why – and how- are people either left or right handed?

As it turns out, a study by the University of Washington (UW) indicates that being left-handed or right-handed is affected by how long one was breastfed as an infant.

Gathering data from 60,000 mother-infant pairs, the 2019 study found that long-term breastfeeding lowered the prevalence of left-handedness in infants, and the likelihood of them being right-handed is much higher.

This essentially indicates that bottle feeding infants are associated with left-handedness.

Credit: Rainier Ridao/Unsplash

The study’s author, and adjunct professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health, Philippe Hujoel says that the results actually give some insight into the development of complex brain functions.

We think breastfeeding optimizes the process the brain undergoes when solidifying handedness. That’s important because it provides an independent line of evidence that breastfeeding may need to last six to nine months.

Philippe Hujoel, adjunct professor of epidemiology at University of Washington School of Public Health.

But, it doesn’t mean that breastfeeding leads to right-handedness

The study’s author is quick to point out that the study does not imply that breastfeeding leads to right-handedness.

Hujoel said that right- or left-handedness is determined early in fetal life and partially determined by genetics as well.

Interestingly enough, there are other studies that show fetuses are more likely to show left-handed movements in the womb when their mothers are stressed.

But coming back to this particular study, it simply shows when the region of the brain that controls handedness is localized to one side of the brain (aka brain lateralization).

What this research seems to suggest is that breastfeeding optimizes this lateralization towards becoming right- or left-handed.

So if you happen to be left-handed, time to give your mother a ring to find out your infant feeding history.


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