According to CNN, this mantra, “Breast is best,” sums up the result of today’s research on breastfeeding!
A new research has revealed that the longer a baby is breastfed, the more likely that child will grow up to be intelligent, stay in school , and also earn a better salary, CNN reports. Previous studies have demonstrated the clear short-term benefits of breastfeeding including protection from infectious diseases and a reduction in mortality, but this new research shows the correlation between an extended breastfeeding regime as it relates to an increase in intelligence and IQ.
Past studies, although showed short term benefits of breastfeeding, but the evidence of its long-term effects was heavily criticized for failing to take into account the fact that in many countries socially advantaged children are more likely to be breastfed in the first place.
The new research, published in The Lancet medical journal, was carried out in a Brazilian population where, it claimed that there was no difference in breastfeeding rates between different social classes. About 3,500 babies born in Pelotas, Brazil, in 1982, were followed up and 30 years later, they were given an IQ test and asked about their education and income/salaries.
Specifically, the study interviewed 5,914 new mothers about their breastfeeding plans for their children and then followed up on the subjects all the way to age 30. The results showed that those who had been breastfed for a year had on average of four more IQ points, had more years of education and earned roughly 20% more than the average income level.
“Information on breastfeeding duration was collected very close to the time when weaning happened, so we had a very precise information on the duration of breastfeeding,” said study author, Dr. Bernardo Lessa Horta, in a podcast on Lancet.
“We were able to follow about 68% of the participants, which is a very good follow-up rate,” said Lessa Horta. “We observed that breastfeeding was positively associated with performance and intelligence at 30 years old, as well as with education, school achievement and higher monthly incomes.”
“It’s suggesting that the positive effect of breastfeeding on IQ leads to a higher income,” he said. “This is our main finding at this moment.”
Dr. Bernado Lessa Horta, of the Federal University of Pelotas, who led the study, said that a group of fatty acids called docosahexaenoic acids (DHAs) found in breast milk were essential for brain development, which possibly provides an explanation on its impact on intelligence.
“This study does not address the very real possibility that mothers who choose to breastfeed, regardless of income or education, distinguish themselves from those who bottle-feed in all kinds of ways that are likely to promote intelligence,” as reported by CNN
The overall implications of Horta’s study according to him, is that breastfeeding has both short and long term benefits, which are clearly evident:
“The finding supports the promotion of breastfeeding. It’s more evidence that besides the clear short term benefits, breastfeeding also has long term consequences in terms of human potential.”