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Research Finds Breastfeeding Boosts IQ

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, May 06, 2008 10:18 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Infant Formula, Breast Cancer, Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding boosted IQ in substantial ways according to a Canadian study.



IMAGE SOURCE: WikiMedia Commons/ breastfeeding within minutes, 2006/ author: David Goodman


As if mothers didn’t already know this, more evidence, this time from Canada’s McGill University, shows that breastfed babies have a higher IQ than those babies fed with formula.

Researchers tested 14,000 children in mental functioning at the age of six and found they had a higher test score.  

The children were born in hospitals in Belarus. 7,000 infants were exclusively breastfed for six months while 6,781 infants were breastfed plus had other foods.

Those who breastfed for three months, and continued up to a year had an average of nearly 7.5 points higher in verbal intelligence, 2.9 points in nonverbal intelligence and 5.9 points higher in overall intelligence.

Their teachers also said the breastfed group was better in reading the writing, according to the study in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Lead researcher Professor Michael Kramer tells BBC News, “Long-term, exclusive breastfeeding appears to improve children's cognitive development."

But what’s uncertain is whether that’s due to the mother-baby bonding, higher socio-economic advantages among the breastfed group or the nutrients that come from breast milk.  

Fatty acids in breast milk may boost intelligence. Amino acids are found in breast milk that are not found in formula including DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) which is important for brain development.

The emotional bonding during the feeding as well as verbal communication may also contribute to positive and permanent changes in brain development.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends new mothers breastfeed their babies exclusively for the first six months of life, then supplement with baby food until at least the first birthday.

The CDC finds that that about three-quarters of new mothers in the U.S. breastfeed their babies. That is the highest rate in at least 20 years.

There are other advantages to breastfeeding for the mother.

A study in the UK found that the longer a woman breastfed the less likely she was to get breast cancer

Breastfeeding also burns an additional 500 calories a day, making it easier for a woman to get back to her pre-pregnancy shape. #

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