A new study shows breastfeeding leading to smarter kids. Other studies have found that breastfeeding goes along with being smart. This new study is exciting because it was designed to try to figure out whether breastfeeding causes higher IQ or if they just happen together for other reasons.
Exclusive breastfeeding enhances children’s cognitive development
By Lucy Piper
12 May 2008
Archives of General Psychiatry 2008; 65: 578-84
MedWire News: Children who are exclusively breastfed for at least 3 months have better cognitive development as measured by IQ at age 6.5 years than other children, research indicates.
Michael Kramer (The Montreal Children’s Hospital, Quebec, Canada) and colleagues carried out a large randomized trial to assess the effects of prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding on the cognitive ability of 13,889 infants at age 6.5 years.
In all, 7,108 of the infants were born at hospitals that promoted and supported breastfeeding as part of a World Health Organization initiative, while 6,781 were born at hospitals adhering to standard practices and policies.
Significantly more babies born at the intervention hospitals were breastfed at 3 months and remained so throughout the first year.
Scores on the Wechsler Abbreviated Scales of Intelligence Measures, showed a 7.5-point improvement in verbal IQ for breastfed infants compared with control infants. They also scored 2.9 and 5.9 points higher for performance and full-scale IQ, respectively.
The researchers note that while breastfeeding appears to improve children’s cognitive development, it is still uncertain whether this is due to components of breast milk such as fatty acids or the physical and social interaction that accompanies breastfeeding.
They say the findings “should prove helpful in encouraging further public health efforts to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding.”