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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid