Breastfeeding for longer duration makes the baby smarter with more IQ, says a new study. According to researchers from the Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil, children who are breastfed are likely to become more successful in life than the children who are fed through bottles.
Researchers conducted the study over 3,500 babies and divided them into five groups based on the time they were breastfed. They recorded every infant’s birth weight, genetics, parental schooling and habits of their parents including whether the mother smoked during pregnancy or not. Each of the babies went through an IQ test after reaching the age of 30 years. Study authors also took account of their educational qualification, income and success in life.
It was found that the babies who were breastfed for the longer duration (more than one year) had better IQ (scored four more IQ points), attained better educational qualification and were more successful in life. “Our study provides the first evidence that prolonged breastfeeding not only increases intelligence until at least the age of 30 years but also has an impact both at an individual and societal level by improving educational attainment and earning ability,” said Lead researcher Dr Bernardo Lessa Horta.
While explaining Dr Horta said, mother’s milk contains long-chain saturated fatty acids (DHAs), essential for brain development. Thus, the more a child is breastfed, the more DHA it absorbs, the better development of the brain takes place.
However, the study authors were astonished to see that highly educated mother didn’t feed their infants for longer duration when compared to less educated mothers. “What is unique about this study is the fact that, in the population we studied, breastfeeding was not more common among highly educated, high-income women, but was evenly distributed by social class.”
The study appeared in The Lancet Global Health journal.