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Extreme Breastfeeding

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How old is too old?

Breastfeeding has been everywhere these days: Salma Hayek breastfeeding another woman's baby in Africa, the Facebook flap over breastfeeding photos, and that beautiful W cover shot of Angelina Jolie breastfeeding. Seems like everybody's got breastfeeding on the brain. But when is a child too old to be breastfed? Some moms shockingly say five, six, seven, eight -- or beyond.

By now, you've probably seen the video of Veronica, the woman who breastfed one daughter until age five and is still breastfeeding her eight-year-old, Eliza.

According to the CDC, 20% of mothers were still breastfeeding at 12 months. No one keeps count how many women breastfeed their kids beyond 18 months, not even La Leche League International, reports the Boston Globe. But evidence shows the "extreme breastfeeding" trend is growing. Katherine Dettwyler , the nation's leading breastfeeding researcher, says women who continue to nurse typically keep quiet about it, sometimes even to family members, because the culture is so biased against it.

"People say, 'Oh, he's going to think he's having sex with his mother!' " she says. "Well, no. Only if you socialize him to think that way. This is a biological process. Human beings are wired to naturally wean sometime after 2 1/2."

"There's no reason to think it is abnormal or pathological or sick," says Nancy Holtzman, a board-certified lactation consultant.


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