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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid