News / Health

Breastfeeding Duration May Be Associated with Intelligence

World Breastfeeding Week, which occurs August 1-7, has a simple goal: to increase the number of mothers who breastfeed.
World Breastfeeding Week, which occurs August 1-7, has a simple goal: to increase the number of mothers who breastfeed.
Jessica Berman
Add increased intelligence to the list of benefits associated with breastfeeding. 

According to researchers, children who were breastfed longer had higher scores on intelligence or IQ tests.

Using standardized tests, researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts measured the IQ of some 1,300 children whose mothers were enrolled in a long-term study that looked for ways to improve maternal and child health.

Investigators tested the youngsters at age 3 to determine their ability to understand language. Lead researcher Mandy Brown Belfort says aptitude was an average of 2.5 percent higher among children who received nothing but breast milk for the first year, compared to infants who were given formula.

“And then at age 7, we looked at verbal and non-verbal IQ and there the effect was a little bit stronger.  So, for each additional month of breastfeeding, the IQ score was about a third of a point higher," said Belfort.

Belfort, a neonatologist at Boston Children’s and professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, says breastfeeding was not associated with higher scores on a test that measured memory and learning.

However, researchers found that visual motor skills, or the ability of the eyes to guide movements, were better among 3 year olds whose mothers consumed two or more servings of fish per week.

At this point, Belfort says investigators can only speculate as to the reasons why breastfed children had higher IQs.

“One is that there are either nutrients or other substances in breast milk that benefit the developing brain but haven’t been discovered yet, and so aren’t being added routinely to infant formula," she said.

Another possible explanation for the effect of breastfeeding duration on IQ, according to Belfort, is there is something about the interaction between mother and baby that boosts the child’s intelligence.

A study on the link between the length of breastfeeding and IQ in children is published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.  

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
July 31, 2013 9:16 PM
The role of a mother's milk is extremely important in a child's development. It is the best for feeding and is preferable. Several studies have already linked the mother's breast milk to strong immune systems. So, the breast feeding link to higher intelligence is no su rprise!


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
July 31, 2013 3:03 AM
There are a lot of unbelievable findings in the world of epidemiology. What can be said in the world of epidemiology is only correlation not causalty. We should not be cheated by probability-value of statistics, sole and main base of epidemiology.


by: Humanoid from: Virginia
July 30, 2013 4:58 PM
The brain prefers Ketones to Glucose.


by: dtschuck from: Tennessee
July 30, 2013 4:28 PM
"At this point, Belfort says investigators can only speculate as to the reasons why breastfed children had higher IQs."

Ah, maybe breast feeding has nothing to do with higher intelligence and every thing to do with the intelligence of the people that choose to breast feed, which tend to be people of higher intelligence and socio-economic levels, so the kid inherited the parent's smart genes....big deal. Not exactly earth shaking news.

In Response

by: aspera
July 30, 2013 5:57 PM
The study controlled for the IQ of the parents. The author of this article misses the second major conclusion of the journal article, which was that the verbal IQ of the children was also positively correlated with fish consumption in the mother, leading to higher DHA levels, which is known to affect cognitive development.

In Response

by: none from: usa
July 30, 2013 5:23 PM
Poor women will choose to breast feed. If she has no money, then free milk is better than no milk. Even the platypus breastfeeds (or fur feeds since it has no teat), and it it's the smartest animal out there.

In Response

by: tom from: sacramento
July 30, 2013 4:59 PM
Cause and effect, how does it work?

Or

"Correlation and causation, why does one matter and one not so much?"

My wife didn't produce enough breast milk, so we fed our son formula, but otherwise cared greatly about his development and education. He's 7 and reads at a 10th grade level. We haven't tested his IQ yet, but mine is 160 and he looks to have about the same capabilities as I do.

And thats why crap like this doesn't mean anything. Breast feeding is apple-like in its religious fervor. I'm quite sure that all things being equal, breast feeding is somewhat better than other options. But nobody should ever feel bad about using other options or feeling like they're consigning their child to being an idiot if they don't quite follow the religion.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid