There’s no doubt about the benefits of breastfeeding, but most of the benefits that are written about in medical journals is related to the nutritional and immunologic benefits of human breast milk. Here’s one more of many articles touting the developmental benefits of breastfeeding over bottle-feeding. Most of the studies compare breast milk (including pumped milk) to formula, but this study specifically states that children who where specifically breast-fed had significantly higher scores in cognitive development, receptive communication, expressive communication, and fine motor development. Children who were breastfed for more than 6 months had the highest scores compared with children that were never breastfed.
There’s a general consensus within the dental community that bottle-feeding can potentially promote dental crowding. The physical act of swallowing is very different when sucking from an artificial nipple vs. suckling from a mother’s breast. Dr. Brian Palmer has an excellent explanation on his website.
In the original study, nowhere is where any mention of the biomechanics differences with breast-feeding versus sucking from an artificial nipple from a bottle. Poor swallowing mechanics leads to improper tongue motion, which can cause malocclusion (dental crowding), which in turn can increase your chance of narrowed airways and sleep-related breathing disorders (such as obstructive sleep apnea). This is also why using a pacifier or even thumb sucking has similar, detrimental effects.
What are your experiences with breast or bottle feeding and dental crowding issues in your children?